Spiking construction costs affect Tooele school projects

Mar 3, 2022, 6:19 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:45 pm
(KSL TV)...

TOOELE, Utah – Rising construction costs are putting a financial strain on the Tooele School District. 

It is short about $55 million to build a new junior high school. 

Construction prices in Utah have spiked 40% in the last year. 

“We’re just seeing unexpected, unprecedented cost escalation here in the last year,” said Kendall Smith, vice president of the building division for Hughes General Contractors. 

It’s a real sticker shock for Smith’s clients. 

He’s currently working with the Tooele County School District. 

“We’re going to have to look at the projects we have going forward,” said Mark Ernst, Interim Superintendent of Schools for Tooele County School District. 

In 2020, voters approved a $170 million dollar bond to build an elementary, junior high and high school in Tooele County. 

Here’s a breakdown of how the district planned on spending that money: 

Prices have jumped significantly and now the district says it won’t have enough money to build the junior high. 

“55 million dollars is our worst-case scenario,” said Ernst. 

This appears to be a trend all across the state. 

“Every school district that has budgeted 2, 3 years ago are experiencing the same thing,” said Smith. 

Twenty Wells Elementary is set to open this fall in Grantsville City. Deseret Peak High School will have a groundbreaking next month and the new junior high school is expected to begin construction in Stansbury Park in 2021. 

For now, the district said it’s working on a plan with contractors to cut costs and generate more money. That could mean projects will be put on hold. 

“Really looking very hard at how we are spending our money to make sure we can do right by our voters,” said Ernst. 

Smith said tough decisions are coming but he cautioned some cuts might be more expensive down the road.  

“It’s a shame to cut square footage and then realize two years later that you would need it and now it costs even more for that square footage. That’s something that they have to wrestle with.” 

Tooele School District said one of the options it will not consider right now is asking voters to approve another bond. 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


Ashley Moser

Utah fifth grader successfully petitions to allow hats at his school

Manila Elementary School's policy allowed students to wear ball caps only on designated days. James Cope, 10, was not fond of that rule, so he started a petition.
23 hours ago
Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret N...
Dan Rascon

New bill would add state auditor to oversee funding of school voucher program

A controversial school voucher bill that passed the House and Senate, and was signed by the governor, is expected to get a new set of eyes to help follow the money trail.
2 days ago
Michael Houck

Sunday Edition: School Voucher, Abortion, Transgender Surgery Bills

This week on Sunday Edition, Doug dives into a number of controversial bills that have sailed through the legislature during the first few weeks of this year's legislative session.
2 days ago
Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio

Alpine schools investigating ‘suspicious’ computer activity

People in the Alpine School District are dealing with a tech headache connected to what they describe as a computer security issue.
2 days ago
(Dan Rascon/KSL TV)...
Dan Rascon

Alleged fraud committed by top leaders at Layton Christian Academy

Church leaders and teachers at Layton Christian Academy are in tears over an alleged “massive fraud” operation at their school possibly involving millions of dollars.  
3 days ago
a soccer ball is kicked into the goal net...
Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio

Non-public-school students could more easily play sports under a new bill

A bill working its way through the Utah Legislature could open the door for online, private, charter, and homeschool students to play sports outside of their home district.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Spiking construction costs affect Tooele school projects