Newport This Week

High School Project Over Budget; Delays Expected

A recent photo of the progress on the new Rogers High School construction. It is now expected to not be completed for classes until Sept. 2025. (Photo by Kevin Friel/Aquidneck Aerials)

A recent photo of the progress on the new Rogers High School construction. It is now expected to not be completed for classes until Sept. 2025. (Photo by Kevin Friel/Aquidneck Aerials)

The new high school in Newport may not open until 2025. Initially expected to open in 2024, construction delays are being blamed.

“At this time, spring 2025 [is the expected opening date], with completion in late spring,” said Louisa Boatwright, co-chair of the School Building Committee after the May 15 committee meeting.

It was also announced, based on recent bids, that the project is over budget by nearly $10 million, with bids for masonry, exterior framing and the HVAC system coming in $6.2 million above what was projected last fall and winter, and a bid for the electrical system at $1 million higher than expected.

“We were once again shocked and completely deflated,” Boatwright said. “We need to continue to ask our partners at the state level for assistance.”

The bids for masonry, exterior framing and the HVAC system were not accepted, but the bid for the electrical system was accepted as the work cannot be delayed without a cascade of further holdups.

Joe DeSanti, the city’s lead consultant on the project, said he did not know why the costs had risen. Especially puzzling is the escalation of the HVAC expense, which came in $3.8 million more than the last estimate. DeSanti will meet with the general contractor and the subcontractors to see if there are ways to reduce the bids.

The new bids, if accepted as is, would put the project on track to be $9.8 million over budget, with few ways remaining to cut costs. But as they have not been signed off on by the district, according to Boatwright, the project is now about $5 million over budget.

But the masonry work and the exterior framing steel will have to be done, and the HVAC systems installed, so the deficit may well grow.

In summing up the financial predicament, DeSanti said, “Things seem to be trending to the deficit. There is that potential.”

Newport is not alone with its financial problems. Similar projects elsewhere are being hurt by the same cost escalations. But, Boatwright said, “We have to build the new [high school].”

The hope is that future bids come in lower than expected, or that the city, the state, the federal government, or some combination of the three comes up with the funds.

The City Council will hold a workshop with the School Committee on May 22 at Innovate Newport to discuss the Fiscal Year 2024 operating budget.

3 responses to “High School Project Over Budget; Delays Expected”

  1. Before the Vote on this disastrous new school project I tried to warn the citizens of Newport this would become a major debacle. With Cost overruns and contractors walking all over the city as a whole this whole project is a major squanderance of taxpayers dollars. To think even before the citizens of Newport voted on this project the Newport City Council new of major cost over runs on this project and withheld this evidence of knowing the project was running into financial crisis with major cost overruns. In this City Council thinks that Newport citizens are not capable of electing their own Mayor.

  2. Gregory Huet says:

    Just think how much money Newport and Middletown would have saved the taxpayers of both municipalities if: a Regional High School was approved; a $20 million dollar short fall was disclosed by the Chairman of the Newport School Committee before the election; a small vocal minority group named Build Newport’s Future didn’t spread false information about the Regionalization issue before the election; and the leaders in both towns put their heads together to put our children’s educational needs above local politics and pettiness. All of those saved dollars could have gone into providing a first class education system for all of our children. I predict things will continue to get worse before they get better.We all need to get a sense of reality, get involved, and demand better.

  3. Gregory Huet, Could have would have should have. This City council was quite aware of the over-cures on spending of this new school before this went to vote there was Major cost issues on building a new school. The City Council choose to withhold this prudentant known information from the Citizens of Newport to after the Vote. Yes that goes back to say..when they were voted to let the Citizens of Newport decide who our Mayor would become by Voting Ballots they said Newport citizens aren’t savvyly smart enough to make that decision? Newport is a major fiasco of people picking and choosing behind closed doors who will be Mayor. The way they run our City Hall is not a true democracy. Anybody that was involved in with holding pertinent information to the voters should Resign their post immediately.

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