School officials say increasing demand for materials and a global supply chain disruption sparked by the coronavirus pandemic are to blame for stalled construction at Early College Opportunities High School, prompting Santa Fe Public Schools to reallocate more than $3 million in funding from a general obligation bond to the project.

When voters approved the $100 million bond in 2017, $10.08 million was set aside for improvements at Early College Opportunities, which offers dual community college credits for students and provides vocational training in fields like auto mechanics. In addition to site improvements, crews are building new training and academic facilities.

When the project went out to bid in January with a maximum allowable construction cost of $7.5 million, six contractors bid on the job at an average of $10.4 million, district officials told the Citizens Review Committee this week. The presentation was led by Deputy Superintendent Kristy Janda Wagner, Executive Director of Operations Gabe Romero and construction project manager Leo Prenevost.

The district proposed allocating about $3.5 million more to the project.In what Citizens Review Committee Chairwoman Jody Wheeler called an “easy decision,” the proposal was approved unanimously by the committee.The changes will raise the total project cost to $13.48 million, allowing for a maximum construction cost of $10.4 million. At the meeting, Prenevost said the project would go out to bid again this summer. The estimated completion date is spring 2022, according to the district’s website.Demolitions on the site are already complete.

“This school is very popular. It has had a waiting list. It’s attracted students from private schools, home school. It’s kept kids from dropping out, and right now they’re limited on space,” Superintendent Veronica García said in an interview. “But we needed this construction, not just about anticipating enrollment for this school. It’s [needed] to be able to deliver the program, not in the makeshift facilities we have right now.” During the 2017-18 academic year, enrollment at the school was about 140 students. A 2018 report from the district projects enrollment to rise to more than 400 by the 2025-26 school year.

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