How did Alpine School District's bond get so over budget? 04

A sign stands at the site of a future elementary school Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, at the intersection of North Vineyard Loop Road and N. 270 East in Vineyard. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

A decision on what the Alpine School District will do to cover the costs of its remaining 2016 bond projects could come by the end of the month.

The Alpine School District Board of Education continued discussions into the bond’s remaining phase Tuesday.

“It is a difficult decision because we have more need probably than we have money,” said Mark Clement, a member of the board.

The district has about $40 million remaining of its $387 million bond to construct about $80 million left of bond projects. Construction has not started on the final three school projects in the bond, which include a middle school in Lehi and elementary schools in Eagle Mountain and Vineyard.

The district has attributed the deficit to expanding the scope of projects through decisions such as adding additional square footage to schools and through rising construction costs that have overwhelmed initial estimates.

Other bonds have traditionally been over budget, Rob Smith, the district’s assistant superintendent, told the board Tuesday afternoon. The 2006 bond was budgeted at $230 million and had $296 million spent on projects, the 2011 bond was budgeted for $210 million and had $235 million spent and the 2016 bond was budgeted at $387 million and is expected to have had $457 million spent on its projects.

Smith said he remembered the meetings about the 2006 deficit.

“It was a little different situation and we had to do a lot of things to make it work, but we did, and we kept those commitments to voters,” he said.

Smith said the district doesn’t know how much a project will cost until it does the bids, and that there’s always a difference between the projected cost and the bid.

The district could dip into other funding sources, such as utilizing its local building authority, to complete the remaining projects.

“When we make commitments, we need to follow through with commitments made,” Smith said during the meeting’s study session. “That is a guiding principle we feel is critical for us.”

Bond projects have included Cedar Valley High School in Eagle Mountain, along with multiple new elementary schools, school renovations, security updates and property purchases.

The board could make a decision about the funds Sept. 24.

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