Costs climbing for Bainbridge school projects

Higher-than-expected costs threaten to drastically alter new public school projects on Bainbridge Island, but district officials aren’t sure by how much.

It was clear at Thursday’s school board study session — held to discuss drastic cost escalations for current district construction projects — that hard numbers would not be making an appearance.

A team of designers, architects and consultants were on hand to explain how cost increases could possibly affect the district’s projects, but none offered any definitive answers about how much of an impact the increases will be having.

Some possible impacts of the increases, however, could be reductions to the Bainbridge High 100 Building’s performing arts space and general reductions to square footage.

Board President Sheila Jakubik noted her surprise at the meeting, saying that she was expecting solid figures that show the recent cost increases for a new Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary School and 100 Building for Bainbridge High.

“It does feel hard to have a conversation when it feels like I don’t understand exactly the numbers that we’re looking at,” Jakubik said.

Director of Capital Projects Tamela Van Winkle was quick to explain that the purpose of the meeting was to bring the escalations to the attention of the public and the board as soon as possible.

“It became very important to me to immediately engage in a conversation with the board, right now, to let them know of the conditions that we’re working with,” Van Winkle said.

Fundraising ideas were also briefly discussed at the meeting, one of which was the sale of the district-owned Mandus Olson property. Considerations were also made to possibly seek private funding to cover the cost gap.

While estimates of cost increases for the construction projects are currently elusive, Van Winkle stated that she would be providing the desired figures to the board at a meeting scheduled for July 27.