The New York Post has published an article asserting that the city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) is over budget on more than half of its current major projects — resulting in a taxpayer cost at least $300 million more than planned.
However, city Department of Education officials say the SCA’s online dashboard’s comparison of baseline costs to current projected price tags doesn’t account for alterations to projects — including when more seats are added.
The officials said some costs aren’t known until well into the construction timeline and can only be added them.
“Baseline costs are a preliminary estimate of construction costs and don’t account for additional work and changes to a project’s scope that arise during the normal course of construction,” DOE spokesman Michael Aciman told The Post.
“We provide updated total project cost estimates to communities each year to reflect any change to a project’s scope.”
As an example of the conflicting perspectives of the purported over-budget costs, the Post cited the example of PS 11 in Queens, which is adding an annex. That project “has skyrocketed above its estimated cost by $52 million, to $132.6 million,” the newspaper reported.
However, officials said costs for that project that were added after the baseline estimate included demolition of the existing building, the removal of temporary classrooms, restoring a play yard and making enhancements to the existing building.
The SCA website lists several projects available in the next six months to a year, and outlines the process by which contractors can prequalify to bid on the work.
As an example of the volume of opportunities, consider this list for just the Bronx (current as of Aug. 29). These are capital improvement projects, which the SCA says “maintain and upgrade existing school facilities.”
“They are generally smaller than line projects and involve work such as interior/exterior building upgrades, roof and boiler replacements, electrical work, security systems, room conversions and transportable classrooms. Their estimated construction value typically ranges from $1 million to $4 million.”