Why school construction costs are climbing and projects are stalling

Education contractors across the country find that labor, material prices, complex designs, and health and technology needs are putting pressure on the delivery of school builds and adding to the cost.

When California-based C.W. Driver Cos. began work on the new 94,000-square-foot K-8 Cadence Park School campus in Irvine in 2016, the overall construction costs came in at $475 per square foot. But in 2019, as the firm started mapping out the construction of Heritage Fields School No. 3, another K-8 campus for the Irvine Unified School District, costs had surged to $598 a square foot.

That’s a jump of 26% in just three years, and it echoes a trend experienced around the country.

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