KEARNEY — Construction costs to expand Sunrise Middle School and Kearney High School may be approximately $1.2 million more than originally anticipated, according to projections in BD Construction’s facilities report to the school board Monday.
Earlier this year, the board approved a $6 million project to renovate and add classrooms and redesign the front entrance at Sunrise and a $2.05 million project at KHS to add eight additional classrooms. Now, though, Sunrise is estimated to be $565,456 over the original bid and KHS to be $678,900 over because of labor and inflation costs.
The actual building fund impact is projected to be lower, though, because construction at Northeast Elementary, which now has been completed, came in under budget. The estimated savings for the district at Northeast is estimated at $650,000.
So, with all three projects included the district would be $594,356 over budget.
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BD project manager Kent Cordes told the board Monday night that the projects are estimated to be higher than original bids, in part, because of the tight labor and construction market.
“We’re seeing (cost) increases in just about every area of construction,” Cordes said. “We struggle to hire people, and so we know that’s also the case with our subcontractors. And it’s tough to take on additional work, so we haven’t seen as great of coverage ... There’s not as many bids in each area. It’s not as competitive as what we’ve seen.”
It’s also possible, Cordes noted, that original cost estimates were put together in 2017, and inflation has caused costs to rise, but he said he didn’t want to speak for the architect.
Since Northeast finished under budget, he said, it’s also possible that the Sunrise and KHS projects may finish with lower than projected costs.
“I think our track record has proven that. We’ve come in under on Horizon, on Sunrise, on Buffalo Hills and on Northeast,” Cordes responded when board President Alex Straatmann asked if there was a possibility of coming in under the new estimates. Cordes also said that BD will work with the architect to see if any costs could be saved moving forward.
Also Monday night, the board approved the budget for the 2019-20 year.
The general fund budget was set at $59,615,180, with a property tax requirement of $39,752,618. The levy remained unchanged from last year, still set at $1.22 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a $200,000 home would pay $2,440 in taxes to support KPS.
Last year, the board raised the levy in response to continually decreasing state aid. This year, the district received an additional $187,943 in state aid, an increase of 2.81 percent, for a total of $6,882,243. This was the first year KPS saw an increase in state aid since 2014.
The board still needs to set the property tax request and submit the request to the Buffalo County clerk. That meeting is set for 4 p.m. Oct. 9.
At Monday night’s meeting the board additionally:
- Heard a report on the completion this summer of the inaugural Bearcat Scholars Program, which is designed to help incoming freshmen develop skills for success both academically and socially in high school. The students also had the opportunity to earn 10 credits through the program.
- Issued a proclamation in support of the district’s #BeKind initiative, encouraging all staff members, students, parents and community members to take part.
- Recognized Future Business Leaders of America members Isabella Cao, a member of Nebraska Parliamentary Procedure Team who won ninth place at the national conference this summer, and Matt Dahlke, a 2019 spring qualifier for the Microsoft Office Specialist Certification Exam. The board also recognized Taury Himmerich for receiving a Scholastic Inc., art award and for having her artwork displayed in the Governor’s Mansion.