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Bond 2020 tab higher than anticipated for SAISD

The volatile construction market is putting costs at a premium, but SAISD says their budget is still enough to fulfill their Bond 2020 promise.

SAN ANTONIO — The volatile construction market is forcing San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) to rethink their 2020 Bond plans.

High construction costs are spurring more conversations about how to complete renovations without asking for more taxpayer dollars.

KENS 5 learned how we got here.

November 2020, voters overwhelmingly approved two bonds for SAISD: $90 million for technology upgrades and $1.21 billion for new construction.

"I'm the first one to admit that the volatility in the market is unprecedented," said Kedrick Wright, Deputy Chief Operations Officer for SAISD. "One day it's up 200%, next day it's down 55%, then it's down 65%, then it's up 400%."

RELATED: Voters ensure victory for SAISD's bond propositions

Wright says right now, estimated construction costs are higher than initial estimates -- but that's nothing new.

"It's something we expected. It's something we certainly planned for," he explained. "We understood that COVID was happening and we didn't know exactly what the fallout would be, but we knew there would be some fallout."

When SAISD plans for a bond, they depend on historical data to predict what the costs will be once they start construction.

Credit: SAISD
Renovations inside Brackenridge High School.

Right now, the construction market in Bexar County and San Antonio is so busy, getting good quality estimates is difficult. Short supply, Wright says, brings a premium price.

RELATED: SAISD recruiting dual language teachers from Latin American countries to fill shortages, increase cultural representation

"Anywhere from 24% to 124% [higher]," said Wright. "Right now, steal is through the roof, so we're making some decisions around - do we limit the amount of steel we use in our buildings and use more concrete? Just as durable, just as long-lasting and we don't sacrifice the quality of the end product." 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows inflation from 2020 to 2022 is in the neighborhood of 16% to 19%.

Even with higher supply costs, Wright says their budget is still on target to deliver their promise to voters. SAISD officials are working with their architects and contractors to get as close to the budget as possible, and they're getting closer by the day.

Credit: SAISD
Renovations inside Brackenridge High School.

The district will likely wait a few months to start the 36 projects. By then, Wright is hopeful costs will be back to normal.

"To put out, let's just say 12 [projects] at a time. 12 this year, 12 early next year, 12 towards the end of next year. That will help us control some of the inflation in our SAISD market," he explained. "We still want to make sure we provide the Mercedes Benz versions of these campuses."

SAISD says they will not go back to voters for more Bond 2020 money. Wright says, they also set aside 75% more funding in Bond 2020 to cover costs for any unforeseen conditions in the district's facilities.

As part of Bond 2016, the new Burbank High School will open this August. Lanier just opened their brand new facility a few weeks ago. Jefferson is also in the middle of modernizing their national historic building.

To learn more about the recent and upcoming bond construction projects in SAISD, click here.

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