New Mitchell high school facing cost concerns due to inflation

The Mitchell School District will be splitting the construction of it's new high school into...
The Mitchell School District will be splitting the construction of it's new high school into two phases due to construction costs.(Dakota News Now)
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 5:04 PM CDT
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MITCHELL, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - For years now, the Mitchell School District has been planning and saving money for a new high school. However, due to inflation of construction costs, the full project won’t be coming as soon as they had hoped.

The current Mitchell high school is around 60 years old. Superintendent Joseph Graves said the district has already been planning to replace it for at least the last decade, without having to issue a bond vote to raise taxes.

“We started the planning on this between 10 and 15 years ago. We wanted to get the high school addressed around 2025.” Graves said.

But in the last couple of years, the federal government released large amounts of funding to public districts and local governments. That only intensified the inflation of construction costs, meaning Mitchell’s $43 million new high school became $20 million over budget.

“It would create a spending and construction splurge among public entities across the country. Not just schools, but counties, cities, and everything else like water districts.” Graves said.

To overcome the situation, the district will be splitting the project into two phases. The first will see the core building and classrooms built first. That will be followed by the construction of new gyms, support spaces and other rooms once more funding can be set aside.

“It’s frustrating at first. But then you talk to yourself, and you say, ‘You know what? We’re still going to get there.’ We’re still going to get this done. In fact, we’re going to finish the project hopefully just a little bit longer than we had intended to do it anyway. The frustrating part is we’re having to spend a lot of extra money.” Graves said.

Graves said most importantly, this also prevents the district from having to issue a bond vote to raise taxes.

“People say, school should be run like a business. You should live within your means. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do, and I think we’re going to succeed at it. We’ve succeeded in all of our major building projects recently.” Graves said.

Graves said if everything goes as planned, they should be able to break ground and be able to begin construction this spring.

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