Idaho district fires architect who badly underestimated project costs

Idaho district fires architect who badly underestimated project costs

Cassia County district has $37 million in bond funds for projects, but architect's cost projections were $15 million too low

The Cassia County (Idaho) school district has fired an architect that it blames for significantly underestimating the costs to build new schools.

The Twin Falls Times-News reports that Cassia County district's construction management team determined in November that the cost estimates put together by Hal Jensen, an architect from Pocatello, missed the mark by nearly $15 million. The district subsequently learned that Jensen hasn’t held a valid architect’s license since 2012.

"Our original budget estimates appear to be 30 to 40 percent off," the district says in a news release.

That means that there may not be enough money from the $37 million bond issue to build planned facilities in Decio and Burley.

"The significant shortages are in the Decio and Burley area," the district says. "Declo is to receive a replacement elementary school and upgrades to the existing junior high. Burley was slated for a new elementary, a remodel to Mountain View Elementary, additions at Burley Junior High School and Burley High School, and upgrades at Dworshak Elementary. The current budget will not support these projects in their entirety. The board is faced with two options: press forward and build what can be built or go back to the public and ask for additional funds."

Cassia County has scheduled a public meeting on Dec. 14 to address questions and present new line-item cost estimates for the projects.

The district paid Jensen $10,000 to develop construction budgets for the $37 million bond issue that voters approved in March. 

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