NYC schools ‘over budget’ — Is this a serious issue? (. . . and look at all the bidding/work opportunities here)

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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.”

D017541 BRONX CNTR FOR SCIENCE & MATH Boilers/Heating Plant Upgrade
D017730 BRONX HS OF SCIENCE – X Gymnasium
D016010 DEWITT CLINTON HS – X Gymnasium
D017225 FORDHAM HS FOR THE ARTS – BRON Library Upgrades
D016668 GATEWAY SCH FOR RES & TECH – X Room Conversions/Upgrades
D017733 HERBERT H. LEHMAN HS – X Library Upgrades
D017230 HOLCOMBE L. RUCKER SCHOOLOF CO Auditorium Upgrades
D016972 I.S. 117 – BRONX Science Lab Upgrades
D017854 I.S. 125 – BRONX Building Systems
D016715 I.S. 181 – BRONX Playgrounds
D017614 I.S. 229 – BRONX Room Conversions/Upgrades
D017855 I.S. 339 – BRONX Building Systems
D017852 I.S. 343 – BRONX Building Systems
D017875 I.S. 371 – BRONX Building Systems
D016283 MONROE ACAD FOR VISUAL ARTS – Ext. Work
D017605 MOTT HALL CHARTER SCHOOL Electrical (Exclude RCT)
D016914 MOTT HAVEN COMMUNITY HIGH SCHO Ext. Work
D017537 P.S. 11 – BRONX Site
D017696 P.S. 111 – BRONX Room Conversions/Upgrades
D017545 P.S. 134 – BRONX Other
D017851 P.S. 161 – BRONX Building Systems
D017853 P.S. 179 – BRONX Building Systems
D017694 P.S. 195 – BRONX Auditorium Upgrades
D017792 P.S. 211 – BRONX Accessibility
D017441 P.S. 279 – BRONX Ext. Work
D017503 P.S. 29 – BRONX Ext. Work
D017756 P.S. 304 – BRONX Boilers/Heating Plant Upgrade
D017034 P.S. 43 – BRONX Ext. Work
D017526 P.S. 43 – BRONX Boilers/Heating Plant Upgrade
D017693 P.S. 47 – BRONX Auditorium Upgrades
D017773 P.S. 48 – BRONX Ext. Work
D017856 P.S. 7 – BRONX Building Systems
D016330 P.S. 70 – BRONX Library Upgrades
D017333 P.S. 86 – BRONX Ext. Work
D017739 SCHOOL FOR TOURISM AND HOSPITA Electrical (Exclude RCT)
D017618 THE FORWARD SCHOOL – BRONX Electrical (Exclude RCT)
D014874 X721 SPED – BRONX Ext. Work