JACKSONVILLE — According to information released by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts last week, there have been 22 new public elementary schools built in Texas over the past six years, with the average cost per square foot coming in at $167.
Two of the institutions included in the sample were the Jacksonville Independent School District's Joe Wright Elementary and East Side Elementary, both which opened in August 2012.
Joe Wright's cost was $178 per square foot, while East Side checked in at a cost of $162 per square foot – or, $5 per square foot below the regional average.
At first glance, it appears that the JISD projects are in line with the East Texas average, but JISD Superintendent Dr. Joseph Wardell, while seemingly pleased with the cost of the two new facilities, cautions that each school must be looked at on an individual basis, as no two are exactly identical, and the data, for better or worse, is far from an “apples-to-apples” comparison.
“For example, at Joe Wright, the big factor was that the foundation had to be built on a slope and because the slab had to be suspended, the costs were much higher,” Wardell said Monday.
In comparison, a new elementary school at Cushing was built for $110 per square foot, the lowest of the 22 schools sampled.
“I have talked to officials down there and what I found out was that the slab location that they built on was almost perfectly flat and on-grade to begin with and that it required very little (surface) work to begin with and that saved them quite a bit of money,” said Wardell.
Wylie Elementary in Henderson, built for $222 per square foot was the most expensive elementary school, according to the report.
“There are so many factors that go into cost per square foot calculations,” Wardell said. “It's like buying a new vehicle: Some folks want a fully loaded one and others are more conservative in the options that they are willing to pay for.”