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Delays driving up construction costs

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Delays on construction efforts to improve facilities for grades sixth through 12 in Carroll schools could cost millions of extra dollars, according to a recent study by Construction Control Corporation presented to the Carroll School Board.

The first Phase III Planning Team meeting is Sept. 29 at Woodlawn School.

Educators are trying to find ways to launch the final phase of a countywide school facilities improvement program begun a decade ago. As yet, Phase III — which would address needs for middle, intermediate and high school students — does not have any dedicated funding from Carroll County.

Two options on Phase III came from a Virginia Department of Education facilities study, which recommended that Carroll educators either build a new 1,200-student high school for ninth through 12th grades and relocate grades six through eight to the current high school or build a new 900-student facility for 10th through 12th grades, make a renovated intermediate school the new home for grades six and seven and renovate the high school for the eighth and ninth grades.

Projections put the cost of Option 1, with the new 9-12 high school, at $66.3 million. Option 2, with the new 10-12 high school, was estimated at $74.5 million.

Construction Control Corporation studied the rising prices of steel, copper, cement and other products necessary for school building and found that educational construction costs rose by 9.5 percent over 2007.

By letter, Lee McClure, president of Construction Control Corp., projected that by the end of the year construction costs will have risen by at least 8 percent.

He included a chart to make projections about 6-, 8- and 10-percent inflation on the construction options under consideration by Carroll educators.

“Every year’s delay represents a significant increase in cost to the taxpayers,” he wrote. “If you assume 8 percent escalation and a year’s delay, the added cost for options I and II, respectively, is $5,280,000 and $6,000,000.”

This would be either a $440,000 or a $500,000 respective increase in costs per month for the year, he added.

The longer officials spend in the planning process, the more Phase III is going to cost, as Superintendent Greg Smith put it to the school board members.

“We better get started,” reacted school board member Robert Utz.