Durham Public Schools blames inflation for delaying renovation: 'Money we estimated wasn't enough'

Akilah Davis Image
Thursday, December 14, 2023
DPS blames inflation for delaying district's renovation plans
Durham Public Schools failed to budget enough money to complete needed renovations. The district blames inflation and says it was unavoidable.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Construction is delayed on a number of Durham Public School projects because the district didn't budget enough money to cover the costs.

In 2020, the school board budgeted for renovations and three new schools as part of its 10-year Capital Improvement Plan. Rising construction costs due to inflation caused some setbacks on the school district's renovation plans. It's something district leaders told ABC11 couldn't have been predicted.

"Unfortunately, the money we estimated is just not enough. So what we're doing is shifting some of those priorities to make use of the $423 million bond awarded in 2022," said Fred Davis, an architect and Senior Executive Director of Building Services with Durham Public Schools.

This means renovations will take years to complete. Leaders said they will plan to complete priority projects first and then move on to other projects.

"We're going to try to use those funds as stringent and make it stretch as far as possible to address those concerns," he said.

Davis took ABC11 on a tour inside the Durham School of the Arts. It was built in 1921 and the wear and tear is visible to the naked eye.

"As you see this is an example of a type of material that is outdated," said Davis, showing worn walls before walking into the auditorium. "We've had to replace some of our seating. As we walk down further, there's not a large number of seats for handicap accessibility."

Davis showed ABC11 renderings of the new Durham School of the Arts. It's bigger than the current location and located two miles north. According to him, the future bond in 2026 will address projects they don't have the money for this time around.

"If you look at how education is changing, we want to make sure our students have 21st century learning environments," he said.