Renovations planned for Washington Elementary School are still moving forward despite an increase in costs.
The Jacksonville District 117 School Board met in special session last night to review bids for the complete renovation of the Washington elementary building, the core of which turned 90 years old this year.
Johnco Construction out of the Peoria area had the low bid of the three that were submitted. The board unanimously approved the base bid of $10,645,000 for the work, however, that number won’t fully cover all of the costs.
Jacksonville native Jamie Cosgriff with Graham and Hyde Architects of Springfield says estimates for the project have increased significantly since discussion first began with the District.
“From two years ago it’s probably twenty-five percent inflation. That has to do with workloads of all the contractors around, it has to do with the available workforce, and it has to do with materials and whether they can get them or not, and the fact that there are so many projects going on right now that the scarcity of materials is just making things cost more.”
District Superintendent Steve Ptacek says the impact from the Covid-19 pandemic along with the impact of inflation has affected the overall cost of the project, and that both inflation and the availability of materials have forced extra expenses that were merely an option a year ago.
“We were hoping to do the project at right around eleven and a half million dollars, and it’s going to come in somewhere around thirteen million. That’s a two and a half million increase, and we also have to add in the temporary classrooms because there is no way anybody could get the job done in the summer the way we were able to do Lincoln and South with delays going on. So that is going to add about another million dollars so it’s about a three and a half million increase.
Luckily when we first started talking about this project we didn’t have both ESSR funds and the online sales tax revenue so we easily have the money to cover this and the Eisenhower project.”
Ptacek says some other projects that were previously discussed such as the update to the JHS Auditorium may be delayed due to the extra costs. The board approved the bid for the temporary classrooms from Vesta Modular for just over $870,000. Ptacek says the temporary classrooms offer flexibility for the renovation of both schools.
“We definitely plan on having it there for the first year, which would be the next school year, with the students from Washington. We don’t know how long they would have to be in the temporary classrooms. But then knowing that Eisenhower will take place after that, we are going to have them there as long as needed to cover the Eisenhower students in the event we can’t get that job done over the next summer.
But our lease does allow for once we have been in for one year, the minute we no longer need them we can have them come pick them up and stop paying the monthly rental fee. So it will be less than one point one million at the end because that is for a full two years, and I see the Eisenhower project going beyond three or four months into the following school year.”
Two additional modular units were added to the temporary classrooms in order to accommodate all of Eisenhower Elementary should delays push renovations into the start of the next school year for each project.
Both Ptacek and Cosgriff agreed it is likely no bids would have been received if the temporary classrooms were not offered, as many contractors are hesitant to take on a project of this size knowing that delays in material availability could slow completion.
Ptacek says despite the unforeseen cost increases, the overall outlook for the projects is still positive as the district is getting two more school buildings completed without an increase in property taxes.