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August 10, 2005 8:46 AM CDT

School Building Costs Skyrocket


If construction costs keep going up, [Wyoming] may have to turn to a standardized design for new public schools, the director of the state School Facilities Commission said Monday [May 2nd].

"The problem is we're seeing prices over $200 per square foot. We have to be careful because we're not sure the Legislature would be willing to spend that much," [James "Bubba" Shivler] says.

Spurred by the Supreme Court ruling, Wyoming has embarked upon a string of school construction projects that is expected to cost about $1.1 billion. The ruling placed the burden of school construction on the state, instead of local school districts, and that change resulted in creation of the School Facilities Commission.

While local school boards still have influence over the design of new schools, the state commission must approve those plans. That oversight has resulted in considerable conflict between local boards and the commission, with some complaining that the state is moving toward a "cookie-cutter" school design that fails to take into account individual community needs and desires.

The architects and contractors who attended the presentation told of the difficulty in finding enough trades people to work on Wyoming's school construction projects. One said the state has only four masonry contractors, and one is tied up with prison construction projects.

About the Author

The Casper Star-Tribune is a newspaper published in Casper, Wyo. It is Wyoming's largest newspaper and the only Wyoming newspaper to be distributed statewide. It covers local and state news as well as global events.


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