Carmel’s new school on Clay Center Road more expensive than projected

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Carmel Clay Schools’ new elementary campus on Clay Center Road is going to be more expensive than originally projected.

At its Dec. 16 meeting, the CCS Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution to award nearly $27 million to 13 companies that will be responsible for constructing parts of the school. The board previously approved two other bid awards – one in July and one in October – for site work and structural steel, respectively, bringing the total cost of the project to nearly $34 million.

Roger McMichael, CCS associate superintendent of business affairs, said the price tag is approximately $4.7 million more than an estimate given at the design development stage and approximately $2.4 million more than the estimate given at the final design stage.

“That’s in the context of over $30 million, but still, that’s significant,” McMichael said. “It’s just the state of the market conditions. Being able to look at previous jobs and prices and so forth, it just isn’t working these days because the pricing is changing almost every day.”

McMichael ensured the board that while costs were higher than expected, funding would not be an issue.

“We will have funds to cover this cost,” he said. “We have not yet sold the large bond issue. You may recall that we sold the general obligation bond in 2019, but the larger lease rental bond for this school will be sold in the first quarter of 2020. I think it’s likely that we will need funds beyond the bond issue.”

McMichael presented three options for funding the cost beyond the bond. The district could delay projects covered by the 2019 general obligation bond, use money from the operating fund to cover recurring expenses or sell a smaller general obligation bond in 2020. McMichael supports the third option.

“While we do have the funds at hand (in the operating fund), it would be significant if we chose to use those funds for this project rather than what we anticipated using them for,” he said. “It would affect technology, for example, in a significant way and some other projects that are truly needed.”

The project team has scaled back some parts of the project to reduce costs.

“The worst thing we could do is to compromise the building to where we spend millions of dollars and then we’re not happy with the building,” McMichael said. “Trying to make changes after the fact is really expensive. So, you either do that, or in some cases, worse yet, you have a building that’s really not supporting your educational programs.”

Site work has already begun for the school. McMichael said construction will begin as soon as the weather breaks and is set to be complete in July 2021 for opening in fall 2021.


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