The West Ada School District was caught by unforeseen cost increases as it began design late last year on Hillsdale Elementary School, district officials told the school board Tuesday.
Preliminary estimates put the project at $10 million, the same cost as the district’s Paramount Elementary School in 2006. But for Hillsdale, final costs will be more than $14 million, officials said.
The school, under construction off Amity Road in Meridian, was approved by West Ada voters in a $96 million bond passed last spring.
District officials said they didn’t anticipate a number of the issues the district encountered with the nearly five acres of land it received from Brighton Corporation, including the need to construct a 900-foot road, reroute an irrigation ditch, and provide utility and sewer lines.
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“Nobody wants to see costs go over,” said Bruce Gestrin, who is overseeing projects under construction from the school bond.
Besides late development costs, West Ada is paying for steel and concrete construction, which is required under current building codes but is more costly than the wood frame used at Paramount. Energy-efficiency requirements are also adding to the cost. Energy usage will decline, but at a cost, contractors said.
Part of the cost also comes from the fact the elementary school will be part of a complex of buildings planned for the property, including a YMCA, a library and a possible recreation district pool.
The Meridian library bond failed on Nov. 3, and the Treasure Valley Family YMCA’s plans for a building, originally scheduled to open in 2017, have been delayed. Those groups were expected to bear some of the costs the school district is now required to pay, Gestrin said. But about $750,000 in costs could be recouped when the partners’ portions of the project are completed.
Some board members, including Russell Joki, have been critical of the Hillsdale project’s problems. But at Tuesday’s meeting, board members raised few objections.
“I heard tonight that we did due diligence, but at the same time, we missed a road. We missed that we needed to divert a stream,” Joki told the Statesman on Tuesday.