Richmond looks to cut construction costs of new schools

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) –  A delay in the building of two new schools could lead to millions in savings...that word this afternoon from Richmond leaders. Construction company bids on the $43.5 million project came in over budget last month. The city says it's going over the designs of both elementary schools this month and will shave about $5.5 million off the construction costs.

Ground was broken for Broad Rock and Oak Grove Elementary Schools last Fall. But crews won't actually begin the work until almost a year later. Construction companies priced both projects about a million dollars over the city's $43 million budget.

"There were a lot of internal inconsistencies and we felt like we could get a better number," said Byron Marshall, Richmond Chief Administrative Officer.

And after seeing lower bids for a new elementary school in Henrico County, City Hall went back to the drawing board, looking for cosmetic things it could cut from the buildings' designs. They're removing an extra stairwell or not covering the sprinklers in the ceilings.

"It doesn't affect the operation of the school but it saves money so they're going back and looking at things large and small," Marshall said. "That could add up to this level of savings."

The goal is not  to compromise the news schools' community space or high tech educational tools.

"I want you to know that the two most important things to us are the educational components which you have designed. Which you have determined and none of those have been compromised," said Mayor Dwight Jones.

The mayor asked city council and school board members at this meeting to look at the big picture. He said, quote: "these are the first new schools the city's built in years... Construction will only be delayed about 90 days the end we will save money."

Instead of opening in September of 2012, these schools will now open their doors in January of 2013. There will be a series of community meetings planned so parents can get a look at any changes made to the designs. No dates have been set.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.