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St. Paul school construction overages total $179 million

Updated: October 23, 2019 08:32 PM

At a St. Paul School Board meeting Tuesday night, board members learned their $500 million, five-year facilities plan was significantly over budget.

"Five hundred million dollars is high. That's a lot of money; that's a big program," consultant Chappell Jordan of Jacobs Engineering told the board.

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Jordan said the district overages total $179 million just three years into the five-year plan.

He said things were added to school projects that couldn't be accommodated with the allocated money.

Contingencies for unknowns should have been included, but were not.

For example, at Humboldt High School, changes included additional special education space, unforeseen sight and utility issues, and overall work taking longer than expected, Chappell said.

"Your change management plan and your planning just wasn't adequate," Chappell told the board.

Board member Steve Marchese said the district needs to be effective in how projects are run and how public funds are used.

"I don't like to read what I read in the report because I think it reflects poorly on how the district has been handling this," he said. "We're going to re-evaluate some of these choices," he added.

Recommendations include creating a new facilities master plan with updated costs, more communication and more overall monitoring of projects.

"I want to see us do this smart and in a smart way," Marchese said. "Ultimately, we have to be able to do it in a way that is calculated to get the results we need at a cost the taxpayers can afford."

The 160-page review also indicated a new school building might be more cost effective than repurposing an old building, something the district will likely be looking into when revisiting its remaining projects.

The district said work will continue at schools where projects are already underway.

For the others, the superintendent has pushed the pause button.

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Jessica Miles

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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