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How Did the New 5th/6th Park City School Rise in Price from $14 million to $26 million?

Money. It’s a funny thing. It’s easy to spend it when it’s someone else’s … but a little bit harder when it’s your own.

That’s what I started thinking when I began to read meeting minutes from the Park City School District Master Planning Committee. As many of us know, this committee has been meeting for almost a year to determine whether to tear down Treasure Mountain Junior High (TMJH) and what renovations should be made to the Kearns Campus.

The last I had heard (from the committee) was that rebuilding the 5th/6th school would cost about $26.2 million.  That seemed like a lot of money but I understand that construction is expensive. Yet, I came across Meeting Minutes from the same committee from April 29th, 2015. The minutes state that VCBO (the planning company hired for this process) employee, Breanna Bonsavage, “said that to build a new elementary, the timeline would be 13 or 14 months to completion. New construction building costs are $161 per square foot. The cost for a 5-6 building would be approximately $14M.” The minutes continue on to say, “Moe [Hickey] said that the Board could approve the building of a 5-6 now, because it would not have to be part of the bond.”

$14 million? The difference between $14 million (as stated at the end of April) and $26 million (as stated in middle June) is $12 million dollars. That’s 80% more cost in a month and a half. Will it be $38 million by the time they decide to go to bond?

So, what’s going on?

Perhaps the $14 million number didn’t include “accessories” like window shades and carpet. Yet, $12 million buys a lot of carpet. Perhaps they are planning on getting new desks, lockers, computers, etc. Maybe we should try to reuse some of those things? Perhaps, Ms. Bonsavage was quoting actual costs while our new estimates are based on … something else?

My concern stems back to a March 2015 meeting of the School’s Master Planning Committee where the School District’s Facilities Manager, Todd Hanson, asked VCBO about costs. The exchange went something like this:

Todd Hansen (to VCBO Planning Group): Hey guys, the cost for building right now is about…what… a hundred…?

VCBO: $160 to $180 [per square foot]

Todd Hansen: [So] $180 to $160 depending on how elaborate you get.

VCBO: It depends on the economy. We are not back up ’07. It might be by the time you all do this.

Todd Hansen: The Longer we wait the more expensive the money is.

VCBO: If I was going to do it we’d calculate for a bond election at $250.

So, is the real cost of construction in the $160 range but they’ve calculated it at $250? Or is something else going on?

It’s just another in a long line of questions about plans and process that need to be answered before public funds are used for the rebuilding of Treasure Mountain Junior High (or any other development on the school’s Kearns campus).



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