Wheatley Elementary School reconstruction over $1 million over budget



Wheatley Elementary School was supposed to cost $15 million to rebuild, but is now $1 million over budget.

Within the past week, the land was leveled and cleared for construction. However, the price to execute the project went up by nearly a million and a half dollars. This is 10 percent more than originally planned.

"We try to be as frugal as we can, but again, it's all based on supply and demand," District Construction Director Jeff Hart said.

Demolition of the 60-year-old building began a few weeks ago. After WFTV exposed the building's unsanitary conditions in February, lumber costs have jumped by 7 percent. Hart said costs for concrete are projected to increase by 15 percent.

"Metal cost is up, pVc is up, primary components within electrical and mechanical... it's not just one item. It's a variety of materials that have steadily been slowly escalating," Hart said.

The cost for crews to work on the land is going up as well. As the housing market recovers and more homes are built, contractors can be more picky on what jobs they want and can charge more.

"A few years back they were doing work at cost. They were keeping their personnel working, but they weren't making money for the company," Hart said.

The district said rising costs would not prevent future projects from breaking ground.

"As those costs go up, the sales tax collections will also go up," Hart said.

Wheatley is still scheduled to be done by fall of next year and construction should start within the next few weeks.

School board leaders are expected to approve additional funding for Wheatley at a meeting Tuesday. The money will come from sales tax reserves.