Bainbridge school district says new school projects may be cut back due to high costs

Rapidly rising costs are threatening to “significantly impact” three major pieces of the Bainbridge Island School District’s 2016 bond measure, district officials said Wednesday.

District officials said “skyrocketing construction costs” may “drastically impact” the Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary replacement project, as well as the new Bainbridge High School performing arts facility and BHS’ Career and Technical Education Building.

A study session is planned for the school board on June 15, where district officials and representatives from the architecture and construction industries will talk about rapidly rising construction costs, which officials said are threatening the scale and scope of current capital projects.

Seattle’s competitive construction market directly correlates to the rising expenses for the district, officials said.

The Blakely Elementary construction project, new BHS performing arts facility and the Career and Technical Education Building were all part of an $81.2 million bond request approved by voters in 2016.

Tamela Van Winkle, the district’s director of capital projects, said in an announcement of the meeting that the hurdles the district will face in the coming days are nothing to scoff at.

“We have very real challenges managing the rising cost of construction which may ultimately force us to make difficult choices,” Van Winkle said. “We invite the community to join us and learn more about this problem, as our schools are assets of the entire community.”

The study session is 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 15 in the BISD Board Room.

District officials announced earlier this year, in February, that costs for Blakely were exceeding what had been previously planned for the new South End school, and began talking design revisions with its construction team.

The school board has recently discussed future plans for the building and shared early conceptual ideas for the new theater at BHS, but officials have not yet announced that the facility, one of the highlights of the 2016 bond, is in jeopardy of cutbacks.