Bond Funding Produces Thousands of Construction Opportunities

By Mary Scott Nabers

School districts throughout the U.S. are on the verge of letting large construction projects with new funding from citizen-supported bond elections. Some school districts already have secured their funding, and others will ask voters to approve bond packages in November and December.

Cumulatively, the upcoming opportunities will represent billions in new spending, and although the projects may be classified as construction, they will require a bevy of ancillary services and products. There will be universal opportunities for design, planning, architectural and engineering firms, technology and equipment companies, land work firms, landscaping companies, technology, and security firms. Examples of what can be expected follow.

school construction

South Dakota
Voters in Vermillion already have approved a $26 million bond issue, and school officials soon will release solicitations for construction of a new elementary school. The facility will be built adjacent to the existing middle school and will include a new gymnasium, shared spaces for middle and elementary school staff, and consolidated food service with separate serving areas.

School officials will soon ask voters to approve bond funding for a new Central Intermediate School. The $41 million facility for Wadsworth Schools will be built on the same campus as the high school and middle school. The plan is for design and construction work to begin early in early 2022 with a projected completion date in 2023. The new school facility will have two auditoriums and enhanced security features.

South Dakota
The Tri-Valley School District received bond funding months ago, and school officials plan to spend more than $50 million to build a new elementary school campus in Crooks. The project also will include construction of a 500-seat auditorium, a 5,000-square-foot shop, 29 classrooms, and 500 parking spaces. Additionally, another $9 million will be used to build an early learning center on the Crooks campus.

New Mexico
Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) are prepared to ask voters in November to approve $630 million in funding for construction projects on school campuses. The new funding will be used for a gymnasium expansion at Eldorado High School and a new cafeteria and playground at Corrales Elementary. It also will cover costs for the first phase of construction at Harrison Middle School that will eventually result in a total school replacement project for an estimated $30.3 million. Another $27.9 million will be allocated to classroom construction at the Highland High campus and $27 million for projects at Arroyo del Oso Elementary. Truman Middle School will be allocated $18.6 million, and the Zia Elementary School will have $18.4 million for construction projects.

In September, citizens passed a bond package that provided approximately $74 million in funding for construction projects on numerous school campuses across the state. The Checotah High School campus received $8.5 million for a new performing arts center. Tishomingo Public Schools received $24.5 million for new classrooms at the elementary school and a new high school facility. Collinsville Public Schools was awarded funding to construct an Early Childhood Center, a cafeteria expansion, and a softball locker room.

North Carolina
The Cumberland County Board of Education’s Auxiliary Services Committee hopes to secure $85 million in funding for a much-needed new E.E. Smith High School facility. No final plans have been released, but officials are optimistic of support. The projected cost could easily increase because of recent construction price increases.

New Jersey
The Cranbury School District will ask voters to approve a $18.4 million bond in December. If approved, the funding will be used for a number of renovations, new construction, cafeteria expansions, and the creation of a Center for Arts Education. Additionally, the school will purchase new lockers, enhance security, and acquire other equipment.

The Quaker Valley School District is currently seeking community input for a new school. Construction costs are estimated at between $85 million and $95 million. The funding will be provided by an upcoming bond election.

Officials at the Kankakee School District 111 plan to spend between $9 million and $10 million to renovate and expand the Kankakee Junior High School. The construction project will include an expansion of the cafeteria, construction of a new vestibule leading into the main office, renovation of the reception area, and updates to the media center. Additionally, the funding will cover construction of a broadcast room and new conference room spaces. The school district is expected to release solicitation documents in November.

The Milford School District announced an upcoming referendum for the proposed renovation of Milford Middle School. The Department of Education issued the district a Certificate of Necessity in 2020, but because of the pandemic, the project was put on hold. An estimated cost for the project is $57.27 million, with the state contributing $42.38 million and the district paying $14.89 million. Current plans involve renovating the historic portion of the building, demolishing other parts, and constructing additional sections of the facility. The overall objective is to produce a more modern facility.

The Hardwood Unified School District will ask voters to approve a $59.5 million bond in November. If the funding is approved, it will be used for renovation of the Hardwood Union High School and an expansion of the Crossett Brook Middle School. The project plan includes repairs, roof replacements, new heating and cooling systems, science labs, expansions, and numerous upgrades.

These examples represent upcoming construction projects planned for K-12 campuses. Construction firms and companies that provide equipment, technology, landscaping services and security enhancements will all find an abundance of upcoming opportunities on America’s K-12 campuses.

Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, "Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America," is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.