Global Pandemic Increases Construction Costs - District Prioritizes High School Projects for Completion
St. Louis Park Public Schools currently has multiple projects under construction and is preparing to send projects at the high school out to bid for Summer 2021 construction.
Construction during the COVID global pandemic has created a myriad of challenges and while the approved referendum construction budget has not been reduced, increased costs and regulations are causing the District to prioritize the projects for completion, dependent on the results of bidding.
The cost increases were caused by increased demand for plywood and security material, natural disasters over the past two years in the United States, COVID shutdowns and closing of companies, trade labor shortage because of baby boomer retirements, shortage of materials because of trade labor issues, new soil mitigation requirements, and basic supply and demand across the county. All of the above caused an increase of construction costs by 35% over the past two years, per Tom Bravo, Manager of Facilities.
Additionally, the Universe Building Code (UBC) enforces a new law this year that requires any addition or renovation to a school to have additional storm shelter locations which will impact the new high school projects.
In a presentation to the School Board at their March 22 meeting, Bravo laid out the following priority order for the high school projects and said that right now the Cafeteria, Kitchen and Storm Shelter projects would be underway this Summer and that other projects are dependent on a positive bid environment or future funding.
High School Construction Projects:
Cafeteria, Kitchen & Storm Shelter
Link and Learning Commons
Parking Lot Modifications (to move bus loading/unloading off city streets)
“I want to make sure staff and community members understand that in 2017 when the referendum was approved, no one would have known what was going to happen in the world and the United States and its impact on construction,” Bravo said.