Increases in construction costs will reportedly cause a $77 million shortage in the funds designated for Richardson ISD 2021 bond projects.
The $77 million shortage is significant as it represents more than 10% of the amount proposed, according to district officials.
The construction projects impacted by the shortfall include renovations and transformations of the Forest Meadow and Lake Highland junior high schools into middle schools and the extension of space and additional classrooms at Pearce High School.
A 36% increase in construction costs over the last two years led to the budget shortfall, according to district officials.
Inflation and higher material prices have not only affected the crucial Bond 2021 projects for Richardson ISD but also projects by other school districts and cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
James Watson, chief executive director of operations, said, “The problem is a general one and not peculiar to the RISD.”
The trustees and RISD staff brainstormed to find potential solutions to the current problem. Tabitha Branum, RISD interim superintendent, suggested a reduction in the scope of the 2021 Bond Project.
Branum pointed out that if such a reduction occurs, it would be the first time in RISD history that bond projects would be incomplete due to construction cost increases.
However, facilities staff had a different opinion. Postponing the projects while prices continue to rise will only cause the district to have higher expenses later on, they argued.
“We always aim to keep our building systems in existence and also prolong their functionality,” Sandra Hayes, the assistant superintendent, said. “But the present remedy will cause the collapse of the bond.”
A handful of trustees indicated that they would prefer for the bond fund to be saved for future community renovations. Another remedy considered during the meeting was presenting a backup bond package to voters to cover the shortage.
Support for such a move potentially exists based upon the replies received from the community Branum suggested.
RISD usually plans its capital expenses around a bond cycle of five years. The next bond election is scheduled for 2026.
Since the committee only just met to begin discussing the issue, Branum said the citizen’s bond steering committee would have another meeting so they could weigh their options. If they decided to propose a supplemental bond, it would involve gathering supplemental information before such a step could be fully approved.