Keller ISD to spend additional $800,000-plus on two new elementary schools

dfwnewsa | March 3, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Keller ISD to spend additional 0,000-plus on two new elementary schools

Keller ISD board trustees sit on the dais during a Feb. 29 board meeting at the Keller ISD Education Center. Trustees approved $839,114 for updates to two district elementary schools. (Matthew Sgroi | Fort Worth Report)
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Keller ISD will spend more money than previously budgeted on two elementary school projects currently under construction. 

During a Feb. 29 board meeting highlighted by 71 public comments about the construction of a motel next to a Keller ISD elementary school, a foreign film crew’s invitation into Central High School and the cancellation of a high school play, trustees approved more than $800,000 to use in updated construction plans.

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The change orders, amendments to a construction contract that changes the contractor’s scope of work, will be applied to the construction of Whitley Road Elementary School and Parkview Elementary School. 

The district hired Fort Worth-based construction firm Steele & Freeman, Inc. for both projects. Combined, the two change orders will cost the district an extra $839,114.

“As we moved forward, a number of items that were unforeseen have risen that required us to exceed our allowances,” said Rola Fadel, the district’s executive director of bond and construction services.

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Those “unforeseen” items will force the district to add built-in furniture and fix water leaks at both schools, as well as provide additional structural reinforcement at Whitley Road’s gym. 

Funds for the construction updates will be reallocated from the surplus left over by the district’s already completed $315 million 2019 bond. The district has close to $3 million left to spend from that surplus, Fadel said.

“Some of that money was already slotted for Parkview, but wasn’t used,” she said. “With Whitley, we still had funds available in that Whitley budget line.”

Keller ISD had already spent $25.3 million on the Whitley Road project and $26.7 million on the Parkview project, as the 2019 bond called for complete rebuilds of both schools.

Updated cost of Parkview Elementary and Whitley Road Elementary Projects:

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Whitley Road Elementary School: $25,727,518.42 

Parkview Elementary School: $27,095,344.66

Parkview was first built in 1980 and Whitley Road in 1985. Keller ISD had outgrown those buildings, according to the district website. Construction began on both campuses in 2021.

Keller ISD had already approved a first change order on the Parkview project for $431,749 during a board meeting Aug. 28, 2023. 

Trustee John Birt said these numbers are strangely similar to that change order. 

“It seems like these contractors come in with a $450,000 upcharge all the sudden on stuff they didn’t know,” Birt said. “It just strikes me as odd.”

Both projects are scheduled to be completed by the end of the month. Students will take classes in the rebuilt schools in the 2024-25 school year. 

Matthew Sgroi is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at matthew.sgroi@fortworthreport.org or @MatthewSgroi1. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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