Rudder High Comes in High on Cost

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Bryan ISD is over budget by $3 million on the city's second high school. Earl Rudder High is still a couple years away from opening, and the district isn't sweating the dollars signs just yet.

When is being $3 million over budget with half the construction documents complete not that bad a thing?

"In the first phase, we were actually $8 million over, so we've managed to cut back and get rid of about $5 million," said Sandy Farris with BISD.

It's bad news no matter where you go in the construction world: projected costs are up because the price of steel, concrete and oil-related products is up. Plus, in the region, sub-contractors are being hired at a rapid rate to keep up with all the construction.

So in the latest presentation to BISD, architects were able to pare down the budget with subtle changes: moving the air conditioning units to the roof instead of inside, changing some of the construction materials.

"Those are just small changes, but when you're talking about a building of that size, they can add up," saif Farris.

Again, these are only preliminary estimates by BISD's construction manager-at-risk. Changes could be seen when the facility goes up for bid. In Bryan, more than a dozen facilities are facing facelifts, though besides Rudder High, the highest over budget any other facility is is around $400,000.

"Our goal is not to cut anything that would impact academics. That is a priority," said Farris. "We will not short-change this school in anyway."

If $3 million is the amount they come in over budget, that would still be a large chunk of change for Bryan ISD to make up. But they do have a construction reserve fund they've been working on for the past few years. It's at around $7.5 million right now and growing, and they could dip into that if necessary.

Earl Rudder High was part of more than 100-million-dollars-worth of school improvement projects approved by Bryan voters last year. Two other new school buildings are also slated to be built.