Construction cost estimates for Jefferson City's two public high school projects have risen, but are still under budget, according to the school district Wednesday.
The added expenses are mostly due to the low availability of labor and to higher-than-expected bids for materials, including steel, that the district is trying to re-negotiate, school officials said.
Jefferson City Public Schools' Board of Education on Wednesday morning approved a second bid package for renovations at Jefferson City High School. Approval of the bid package, worth more than $42 million, authorizes the construction manager — Nabholz Construction — to award contracts for individual parts of the package.
The second bid package for JCHS renovation work includes everything left to be done at the school except for structural steel supply and installation and the building's windows.
Jason Hoffman, JCPS chief financial and operations officer, said Wednesday that those two items were not included in the approved package because only one bid was received for each — the board wanted to have the work re-bid with the intent of getting more competitive bids that drive costs down.
Hoffman said the bids — the steel bid, specifically — came in higher than expected, and the district hopes the costs will be significantly less through re-bidding.
The total cost of both schools was estimated to be $141.3 million in April.
He estimated Wednesday the overall cost of the district's two high school projects — which also includes the construction of Capital City High School — is $141.5 million.
"We've had to move around some allowances and contingencies," Hoffman said, adding most of the cost increases have been at JCHS.
He said the estimated combined cost for both projects is still $500,000 under budget.
He said the district has not really noticed the increase in construction costs because of the effects of tariffs, but more through the low availability of labor.
In addition to the district's two large projects, he said, the University of Missouri's south end zone project at Memorial Stadium is also drawing on the supply of construction workers.
"All the union halls are empty; everybody's working," Hoffman said of the information Nabholz has relayed.
Hoffman said the steel and glass work bids are the last remaining of all the bids for both of the district's high school projects after the board's approval Wednesday of the second bid package for JCHS.
Nabholz will accept sealed bids for the steel and glass packages until Oct. 30, according to a public notice published in the News Tribune earlier this month.
The second bid package for JCHS covers 297,747 square feet — including Nichols Career Center.
The job cost amounts to approximately $38.3 million, with the remainder of the total cost coming from additional expenses and fees including the construction manager fee of just under $800,000.
The most expensive work approved Wednesday was more than $6.1 million projected for electrical, communication and electronic safety systems, but there are other multi-million dollar systems included:
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning, more than $5.3 million; framing and drywall, more than $4.9 million; concrete, more than $3.9 million; and plumbing, more than $3 million.
Demolition work, masonry, millwork and cabinetry, roofing and metal panels, and painting are projected to cost more than $1 million each.
JCPS Director of Communication Ryan Burns said classes will start Monday in the newly finished second floor section of the east wing at JCHS, adding the renovations completed so far include art, English, math, special education and business classrooms.
Renovation work at JCHS started in the east wing immediately after school let out in May and has proceeded downward from the third floor through the wing.
Burns said the second phase of renovation that will also start Monday will include Nichols Career Center.
Beginning Monday, Burns said the main entrance for JCHS will be relocated — along with accessibility to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act — to the northwest corner of the building, at the corner of Jayette and Jay Drives.
She said the entrance will remain at that location throughout the duration of the renovation.
The main entrance to Nichols will be located on the west side of the Nichols building, accessible from Jackson Street, she added.