The price tag on the construction of the new Main Elementary School is now estimated to exceed $12 million due to increases in the cost of electrical work, according to Rome City Schools Superintendent Lou Byars.
Original cost estimates had the total cost for the new school, one of the major projects to be funded by an extension of the 1-cent education local option sales tax, ranging from $10 million to $11 million. The bids the school system received for the electrical work were higher than originally anticipated, Byars said, and match a general theme of construction costs going up over the last several years.
“We are seeing an increase in costs associated with construction,” Byars said, as the demand for new projects increases with an economy which seems to be humming along.
In planning new construction, the prior costs from similar projects — like Anna K. Davie Elementary — are used to form estimates, Byars said, but the cost of electrical work has set the Main Elementary project apart.
The increase in costs of electrical work should be seen as why it is important to encourage Rome students to go into the field as well as other construction-related careers, Byars said.
Industry-wide there is a labor shortage in construction even as the number of projects is on the rise — the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are almost 200,000 construction jobs currently available.
Byars visited the site of the new school earlier this week and construction seems to be on schedule to open the doors by the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
He said how the weather plays out this winter will play into meeting that goal for opening the school, and if there are limited days of rain from now until the fall. Foundation work on the new school is ongoing.
Moving forward, system officials are planning to look into what it will take to have an early learning center for 3-year-olds at Main Elementary. The idea of having a center was built into the design of the school.
“It is on our list of things to look at,” Byars said, adding that having early learning centers throughout the school system has been brought up for discussion.
Currently, the system partners with Berry College and the South Rome Redevelopment Corp. on the South Rome Early Learning Center at Anna K. Davie. They system would look to find partners in an expansion of early learning centers into other schools.