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Pandemic impacts district construction projects

Construction projects in Millbrook Central School District are delayed as the district faces challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, MCSD planned projects to construct secure vestibules at Millbrook High School and Elm Drive Elementary School.

“Both projects initially came in over budget,” Elliot Garcia, assistant superintendent for instructional technology and facilities, said. The decision was made to split the high school project into two phases: one for the 2021-22 school year and the other scheduled for the 2022-23 school year. Elm Drive’s project was put on hold and will be reconsidered as part of a larger capital project plan in the near future, he said.

Workers completed much of the MHS project over winter break, but some components are pending because the contractor is still awaiting the remaining materials. Once those materials are received, the first phase will be scheduled for completion.

The district is working with the project architects to get the second phase started and substantially completed this summer, Garcia said.

Planning multi-year projects is difficult during these times.

“Vendors have been less likely to commit to prices months or sometimes even weeks into the future. This is forcing us to project for higher escalation costs than we would typically or have in the recent past,” he said. “In very simple terms, it means this economy is putting us into a position to plan to pay more for less.”

MCSD retained a new architectural and engineering firm to perform a comprehensive assessment of district facilities which will help inform district priorities for the next phases of capital construction. Those priorities will be determined based on age, condition and expected life cycle of district buildings and systems and the programmatic needs of the district, Garcia said.

“We tentatively plan to bring a capital construction plan to the community during the 2022-23 school year,” he said.