Westside school construction project on hold

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 9:29 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A long-awaited project for a Region 8 community is on hold.

The Westside Consolidated School board held a special called meeting on Thursday, June 30, where they discussed the construction of a new high school.

Not long into the meeting, however, costs quickly became the topic of discussion.

According to Superintendent Scott Gauntt, the district put out bids a month ago, and they came back nearly double than expected.

Gauntt said the board expected bids around $250 a square foot, but instead, they came back over $300 a square foot.

He also noted state funds would only cover up to $175 a square foot.

This difference caused the board to vote to reject the bids and put the construction of a new high school and cafeteria on hold.

“As the number kept climbing and climbing, my heart kept sinking and sinking because we have put a lot of time and effort into this,” said Gauntt. “We’ve had so many community meetings, we’ve had so many people invest in this project, so it is a disappointment, it really is for us right now.”

When the school district originally planned for the project three years ago, the price was around $6.5 million. Now, they’re looking at $13 million.

Gauntt said this increase is due to inflation.

District officials talked through several other payment options for the project, but for the current rates, it is not a feasible project.

The board agreed this project will still happen, just not right now.

The district did receive $2.1 million from the state. This money will go be given back to the state. Gauntt said some of that money was used to pay for architecture fees.

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