Monday, October 03, 2005

Some counties do it better

I have the honor of the lead article, State's School Construction Costs Soaring, in the October issue of Carolina Journal. Quoted in the final version are interviews with architect Steve Taynton of the Department of Public Instruction's School Planning section and Johnston County school board member Larry Strickland:

North Carolina is one of the fastest-growing states in the union, and especially in its school-aged population. The growth, coupled with demand for more and better facilities, smaller classes, and specialized programs as well, has pushed local governments into a school construction boom.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, North Carolina is one of only 14 states where the number of elementary schoolchildren has grown despite a nationwide decline between 2000 and 2003. The state also ranks fourth in the number of students added in the high school ages.

As this occurs, though, demand for critical materials and skilled labor is driving the cost of the construction sharply higher. Major projects as far away as China have pushed the price of structural steel and concrete to new levels. Recovery work after Hurricane Katrina, where more than 200,000 homes
were reported destroyed, is not only affecting material availability but competing for contractors’ attention. ...

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