The Rock Hill school district is spending more than expected for capital projects through 2020, said Tony Cox, deputy superintendent for the district.
Voters approved selling $110 million in bonds in May 2015 to pay for new construction, and update and remodel existing buildings. The money also was to pay for safety, energy and technology improvements.
The district also issued an additional $25 million in bonds. That money was within the district’s 8 percent money. State law allows school districts to borrow up to 8 percent of the assessed value of property in the district without getting voter approval.
The additional $25 million brought the total amount to $135 millon for capital projects. However that spending increased by 5.2 percent, or $6.9 million, to $141.9 million.
That increase was due to changes in market conditions, such as a decrease in workforce availability, tightening of fire and building codes, changes to instructional and school needs, and packaging of projects for the best value, according to the district.
“These factors have caused impacts larger than 5 percent, but our Construction Management Office’s diligent efforts to control cost ... have mitigated most of the impacts,” Cox said.
There also was additional money available -- 8 percent money from years prior to 2016, land sales, including the existing district office to Founders Federal Credit Union, and one-time transfers from the general fund and debt service, Cox said.
At their May 22 meeting, the Rock Hill school board unanimously approved the capital budget, which includes all capital funds for the district’s projects through 2020, as part of the five-year master plan. The budget also includes the new district office, a $6.5 million project.
So the overall budget stands at $148.4 million.
Approving the entire budget at once, rather than one year at a time, will allow planners to decide how best to phase the projects to keep them on track, Cox said.
“It provides us more flexibility,” he said.
Cox said yearly updates will still be made to the school board to keep them informed of project changes and progress.
The plan includes improvements at multiple schools, athletic upgrades, a new language immersion school, media center upgrades and new collaborative makerspaces at South Pointe High School and Saluda Trail Middle school.
As of May, 35-40 percent of the work outlined in the five-year program, including construction and technology and equipment purchases, has been completed, Cox said. He said the district had hoped to have more than 50 percent of the work completed.
“We’re a little behind where we ought to be,” Cox said.
Higher costs and longer approval processes from building code authorities have slowed projects, and several instances in which projects received zero bids caused the district to start over, Cox said. He said its a challenge many districts in the area are facing.
Cox said he is happy with the board’s approval of the overall budget.
“We are excited to move forward with our projects,” he said.