KEARNEY, Mo. — The Kearney School District is at the point where it needs to reconsider building another elementary school.
The district announced Wednesday it is stopping construction on its fifth elementary school because of the increasing costs of the project. Instead, it plans to see if other cheaper options could serve the district better.
“As the staff went out to start getting costs for those things and see how things come in we were like – maybe it’s time to take a deeper look because costs were higher than we thought,” Darlene Bailey, president of the Kearney School Board, told FOX4.
Voters approved a bond increase in 2022. The issue was supposed to pay for the new school, as well as renovations at the other four elementary schools.
Soaring inflation and supply chain shortages are the two biggest issues adding to the cost of the project, according to the district.
“The school district is really trying to take an intentional pause on the project. We may very well end up in the same place where we are right now,” Kearney School District Superintendent Emily Miller said. “But with rising costs, inflation, looming recession, we want to be very intentional to support the initiative our taxpayers supported.”
The school board said alternatives to building the fifth elementary school could include renovations and additions to current buildings. The district said the plan could save it millions of dollars.
“What we’d like to do is make sure all of our elementary students are educated in elementary settings,” Miller said.
The school district and board members are working to plan some type of survey or meeting where the public will be able to ask questions, offer suggestions, and learn more about the position the Kearney School District finds itself.
“We want to be careful when we use the word pause. It’s not like we’re putting it on the shelf, and we’re not going to do anything. We have a lot we’re going to be doing in the next few months,” Bailey said.
Staff will now look at these newer options and make a presentation to the board, possibly in March. From there the board will make a decision, including the possibility they reconsider building a new school.