HomeArkansas newsCost concerns delay new West Little Rock High School project

Cost concerns delay new West Little Rock High School project

Little Rock, Arkansas – The Little Rock School District Board of Education is facing a significant challenge with the construction of the new West Little Rock High School. Recent developments have led the board to consider postponing the project due to unforeseen costs that have far exceeded initial estimates.

Just a week ago, plans were moving forward, with students from the Little Rock West High School of Innovation scheduled to be relocated to Hall STEAM Magnet for renovations. However, the financial aspect of the project has now become a major concern. The board received a memo revealing that the costs associated with the construction have nearly doubled compared to the original estimate made two years ago. This was when the voters were first promised the new school.

The current cost, as quoted by Baldwin and Shell, the construction company expected to undertake the project, stands at a staggering $153,638,057. This revelation has caused a significant reevaluation of priorities within the board. Board member Ali Noland expressed concerns that proceeding with this project could potentially compromise other commitments made to the voters.

In 2021, the voters approved a millage extension to fund various projects, including replacing McClellan High School, upgrading security cameras, and renewing classrooms and playgrounds. With a total fund generation of $300,000,000 from the millage, allocating more than half of this budget to the new high school would significantly impact the funding available for other promised projects.

Board member Vicki Hatter advocated for focusing on the existing schools and projects, highlighting the need to prioritize current infrastructures and student needs. After an extensive discussion with LRSD’s finance officer and representatives from Baldwin and Shell, the board unanimously agreed to delay any decisions regarding the school’s construction. They resolved to gather more information before proceeding.

The board plans to revisit this issue in December, facing a year-end deadline to inform Baldwin and Shell of their decision. This is necessary to avoid the expiration of the current bids and the potential increase in costs. The decision to postpone reflects a careful consideration of the district’s broader needs and financial responsibilities, ensuring that all commitments to the voters and students are met effectively.

Ethan Sullivan

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