Lynchburg, VA - The price tag for a new Heritage High School is far higher than the city and school system estimated - $30 million higher. That has some council and board members scratching their heads and wondering where that money's going to come from.
The price factors in the higher cost of construction over the next several years. School Board Chairman Charlie White says $90 million is "a lot to swallow." Still, this project is moving forward.
Reserve funds have been established and task forces assembled all to tackle a deteriorating Heritage High School. But at $90 million?
"Well, you had to peel me off the ceiling first," said Lynchburg City Council Member Turner Perrow.
The price stunned Perrow. He and his colleagues budgeted $60 million without raising taxes.
"I honestly don't know how we are going to pay for $90 million worth in construction. It's way too much," said Perrow.
Perrow does have ideas how to trim the cost: Scratch the auditorium, cut the governor's school, and build on Heritage's current land, instead of relocating the school.
"Typically in large projects, when you begin, they're much greater than you can afford. So, you have to trim them down and understand what you can really afford and what it is you really need. It's part of the exercise of any project," said Perrow.
The Heritage project is still in its infancy. There are no concrete plans. The price tag is alarming. But, it comes from future building costs, says Assistant Superintendent Ben Copeland.
"Right now, we don't expect to bid the project until 2014. You got to add three years of construction and inflation to it. That's what got the price up," said Ben Copeland, assistant superintendent of operations and administration at Lynchburg City Schools.
Now, it's on the school board to bring costs down.
"I would like to see us decide the amount that we are willing to fund before it moves into more detailed design," said Perrow.
The next step is for school administration and the school board to sit down and hash out the details. The goal is to open a new Heritage High School August 2018.