Spiking construction costs cause $55 million shortfall for Tooele County School District

Mar 3, 2022, 7:25 PM | Updated: Mar 4, 2022, 12:04 pm

four-day school week...

Students walk to their buses following school at Rose Springs Elementary in Erda, Tooele County, on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. Photo credit: Steve Griffin, Deseret News

TOOELE, Utah — Skyrocketing construction costs are causing a $55 million shortfall for the Tooele County School District. The district had set money aside to build two new schools, but now it only has enough money to build one.

Tooele School District

In late 2020, the Tooele County School District bonded $170 million for the construction of a high school in Tooele, a junior high south of Stansbury Park and an elementary school in Grantsville.  District Spokesperson Karen Crawford says the district was able to secure other funding to cover building the elementary school. So, the district thought there would be plenty left over to fund the other projects. 

Crews were scheduled to break ground on the new high school next month.

Crawford said, “The original price tag that we had anticipated was $100 million.”

However, the latest bid to construct that school came in at over $156 million. That would have left only $16 million for the junior high which would actually cost nearly $70 million to build.  When district officials issued the bond, they expected construction costs to rise, somewhat, just not this much.

A big jump in a short amount of time

“When it comes to construction costs, there is no way we could have anticipated it was going to jump that much in that short time,” Crawford said.

According to Crawford, the county is seeing rapid growth. And the district needs more schools to keep up with the rising number of students. Now, they have to find ways to trim their construction budget without decreasing the quality of the schools or their resources.

“Our contractor is looking at ways to review the bid to see if there are any cost savings that can be made on the high school,” she said. “These inflation costs are just impacting every aspect of the construction process. And we are working hard to find the best possible solutions for these unforeseen complications.”

The district has no plans, yet, to request another bond to raise funds.

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Spiking construction costs cause $55 million shortfall for Tooele County School District