Construction trailers remain outside the expansive addition to St. Paul’s Humboldt High — a product of what one school board member suggested this week was an eyes-bigger-than-the-stomach approach to some of the school district’s facilities makeovers.
What had been envisioned as a two-story building now is three stories, and an anticipated light remodeling of the school’s current space grew more intensive with the required replacement of its mechanical systems.
The result is a project that has risen in cost from $26.8 million to $48 million — a price tag that is expected to grow before the project’s scheduled completion in August 2020.
Those were among the details in a 73-page report written by the Dallas-based civil engineering firm Jacobs. The district commissioned the $157,514 report after a first wave of projects of a five-year, $484 million facilities plan came in tens of millions of dollars higher than originally projected.
Chappell Jordan, of the Jacobs firm, told school board members Tuesday that part of the cost increase was because of changes in special-education instruction. He held firm to the view that the district’s rising costs at Humboldt and elsewhere were largely the result of changes in scope of the respective projects.
“The district is not overpaying for the work being delivered,” the Jacobs report states. “The district is increasing the amount of work to be delivered.”
But the document also notes that Superintendent Joe Gothard and school board members have not been informed often enough of the shifting costs. The Jacobs firm states that the costs of the Humboldt and Como Park High projects both are expected to exceed their last published estimates, but the information has not been shared in recent facilities master plan updates.
In his presentation to the board, Jordan said that board members could have been told as the Humboldt project changed in scope and rose in cost that they could say no for now and perhaps add things later.
“We’re not sure you got those options,” he said.
The Jacobs firm has recommended that a master schedule of projects be created to allow for easier monitoring by the school board and the public. Monthly updates could be provided, the firm said.
For now, Gothard has put future renovations on hold while he considers the recommendations.