What do you think about this folks?
he Facilities Plan adopted by the Richmond City School Board in December of 2017 including the following estimates for new school construction:
- George Mason Elementary School: $25 million
- E.S.H. Greene Elementary School: $35 million
- New Middle School on Hull Street: $50 million
These estimates have been updated now that the procurement process for the design and construction of all three schools has concluded:
- George Mason Elementary School: $36 million
- E.S.H. Greene Elementary School: $42 million
- New Middle School on Hull Street: $62 million
It is now clear the initial estimates, provided in 2017, under-represented the true cost of construction. Both RPS and the city had concerns this might be the case, which is why both entities discussed engaging a third party to evaluate the costs of rebuilding and/or renovating all RPS schools. The RPS administration brought this proposal to the school board on September 4, 2018 (see screen shot below). The cost of such an evaluation was initially estimated at $100,000, to be split evenly between the city and RPS. Upon further investigation, it was found the price would actually be closer to $200,000, or more. Given the higher cost, the school board decided not to proceed.
Not only were the initial cost estimates low, they also did not take into account the following:
- Construction costs have increased significantly over the past two years.
- The size of Greene Elementary School has been expanded from 650 students to 750 students.
- Per the policy adopted by the Richmond City Council (Res. 2015-R8-15), all schools must be LEED Silver certified, which adds significant expense.
- The current estimates include a 2% contingency, which if not necessary, will go unspent.
Background on the Joint Construction Team
After the passage of the meals tax last year, the City of Richmond and Richmond Public Schools agreed to develop a joint body, the Joint Construction Team (JCT), to manage the process of building new schools. This group includes the CAO, the mayor’s chief of staff, the superintendent, the RPS board chair and other representatives from each agency. The JCT meets weekly for one hour and only proceeds on key decisions when both parties agree. JCT representatives provide monthly updates to the school board and minutes from all JCT meetings are uploaded to RPS “Board Docs.”