As Central Kitsap School District begins work on two of the four major renovation projects in its 2016 $220 million bond, the district is on schedule and on budget for the work, officials say.
Recent news from other districts shows estimates floated during the election process don't always line up with hard costs.
North Mason School District, which passed a $49 million bond in 2013, had pledged a new stadium as part of the high school-middle school campus renovation. In March, the district announced that soaring construction costs meant it would have to change course for a remodel of the existing stadium.
On Bainbridge Island, the school board had to redirect about $5.1 million from pots of money districtwide to bring construction of a new Blakely Elementary School in on budget at $45.7 million. The school is one of two major projects funded by a $81.2 million bond that passed in 2016.
CKSD has bond projects representing $220 million in local taxes plus an estimated $40 million in state tax funds.
"This is a huge investment by our community," said Doug Newell, executive director of business and operations. "We will deliver. No doubt in my mind. We will get this done."
The district in 1992 passed a bond, but because of inflation and other issues, some promised projects went unfulfilled. The district now is working to regain public trust, Newell said.
Newell thinks CKSD, with around 11,000 students, has an advantage over smaller districts in terms of resources it can direct toward capital projects.
Leading up to the bond, the district paid $250,000 to a company that uses school construction data to make cost projections for work at each school. The district also has added staff in its capital facilities department -- going to 12 from three until projects are completed. And on larger projects, they brought in a general contractor during the design phase, which Newell said helped with cost projections.
The district last week broke ground on a renovation of Klahowya Secondary School, its first big bond project. When the school board in 2015 approved running the bond, Klahowya was estimated at $25.2 million. The current cost for an addition on the north side of the building with added classrooms, an auxiliary gym and music room is $22.8 million. This included a new turf field. The project will be done by next summer.
Preliminary work has begun on the Olympic High School renovation, with construction set to start this summer on new classrooms, an upgraded career and technical education center and a new commons. Estimates in 2015 put the district's costs at $33 million, including a new ball field.
The estimate outlines two field options. The district scrapped a $6 million option to build multi-purpose fields in the north lot and opted to spend $1.7 million to share the cost of a new field on the adjacent Kitsap County Fairgrounds with the county.
When the bond ran in 2016, the district did not think Oly would qualify for state construction aid, so none was factored into estimates.
"We don't make decisions unless we know how we can pay for it," Newell said. "We tend to be very conservative about dollars we don't control."
When the bond ran, state officials said Oly only qualified as a partial renovation. CKSD officials later convinced the state that the central wing of the building was getting a 100 percent renovation. State aid plus federal impact aid the district received and applied to capital projects bumped the budget for the project up to $46 million, and the size from about 60,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet.
Conversely, Bainbridge before its 2016 bond knew that the actual cost of Blakely would be more than $45 million, but the school board only asked taxpayers to foot $39 million of the bill. The district, like others, faces escalating costs, said Tamela Van Winkle, executive director of facilities, operations and capital projects. The district also was was hoping for a $1.3 million state capital grant for class size reduction that it didn't get due to fierce competition.
Bainbridge used the same company to do pre-bond cost estimates as Central Kitsap, and like CKSD they hired a general contractor for Blakely before the final design process, which Van Winkle says has helped identify cost savings up front.
Van Winkle, who also oversees transportation, agrees with Newell that larger districts have more resources for capital project management.
Central Kitsap is wrapping up projects paid for by its five-year capital projects levy, which ended in 2016. A central warehouse-transportation-maintenance-food service facility will be done this summer.
A renovation of Silverdale Elementary, completed in fall 2016, could go over budget by $500,000 or more due to a dispute between the contractor, Kassel & Associates Inc. of Redmond, and the district over cost overruns. The dispute is set for mediation this summer, Newell said. The district disputes the costs are its responsibility.
The good news on Silverdale Elementary is that, as with Oly, the district got state aid it didn't initially count on. The district's cost was $12.6 million. Total spending on the renovation -- including improved layout -- is around $18.5 million.
"This was not a cost overrun," Newell said. "The resources from the state allowed us to do more. We delivered a better school as a result."
Construction on the Central Kitsap High School and Middle School campus-- with 325,000 square feet of new buildings -- is estimated to start in early 2018, with all work competed by 2020. The district's cost is an estimated $177 million. State assistance is expected to be $33 million.
A general contractor has been hired, but much of the subcontract work has yet to be awarded. Newell is hoping the district's methodology to estimate and track costs will hold up in the current construction frenzy.
"It's always an unknown," he said. "You make these estimates, and you ask, 'How will the market react?'"