School Expansion From

$30,000,000 To $66,484,592

Despite Warnings & Assurances

The voters were told that if Prop 1967 passed the school district would be able to construct the first phase of a new high school, expand an elementary school, convert the existing high school into administrative offices, and expand the early childhood education center into the current administrative building within a budget of $37,000,000.


The voters were also told that if Prop 2025 passed, the school district would be able to add “extras” to the core high school project.  Additions such as athletic fields and performance facilities would be options within a budget of $15,000,000.


Some residents claimed that these estimates were wildly inaccurate and cautioned the board that the actual costs would be far greater.  This timeline shows how voters were misled leading up to the April 5, 2021 election.

Board Workshop – February 4, 2021

  • Stifel Investment Services and Bond Architects meet with board to discuss debt, facilities, and future planning.

Regular Meeting – February 18, 2021

  • Board approves contract with Bond Architects for design of new Wright City High School.
  • Contract stipulates budget of $30,000,000 for the first phase of the new high school with architect fees of 7% of the project cost.

Regular Meeting – May 20, 2021

  • Board approves agreement with ExcellenceK12 to survey the community on bond issues.

Board Workshop – June 22, 2021

  • Bond Architects presents preliminary design of new high school to board.
  • Phase 1 drawing indicates 143,033 square feet.

Regular Meeting – July 15, 2021

  • Bond Architects produces first cost estimates for phase 1 of new high school.
  • Art Bond explains that he is looking at the most expensive construction options in order to have conservative yet real numbers going in.  He believes he can refine these numbers over the next four months in order to reduce costs into the target range.  This will include reductions in square footage to bring the projected cost down to target.
  • High school phase 1 target:  $31,476,012
  • Updated high school phase 1 estimate: $37,088,867

Regular Meeting – September 16, 2021

  • Bond Architects presents updated high school drawing reducing size to 123,950 square feet
  • Stifel Investment Services has confirmed our district will have $37,000,000 of bonding capacity.
  • Board President Austin Jones questions if the second ballot issue with estimated proceeds of $15,000,000 would cover phase 2 of the high school.  He also considers whether the second ballot issue should be placed on the ballot now, or in 2028.

Regular Meeting – October 21, 2021

  • Knowing that $37,000,000 from Prop 1967 will not purchase additional amenities, Prop 2025 is discussed as it could raise additional funding for those high school projects.
  • Bond Architects present an updated the high school drawing showing 126,000 square feet and have updated their cost per square foot to $224.48.  They have also presented drawings for an 8 classroom expansion at East Elementary.
  • Updated high school phase 1 estimate:  $33,602,687
  • Updated entire district expansion estimate: $45,213,958

Regular Meeting – November 18, 2021

  • Excellencek12 presents patron survey results to board showing overwhelming community support for the district expansion project.

Regular Meeting – December 16, 2021

  • First member of our community speaks to the board regarding the expansion project.  He points out area districts who have had serious cost overruns with similar schools under construction and is concerned about a bait and switch scenario.  He suggests the district obtain an accurate estimate of costs to present to the voters prior to the election.

Regular Meeting – January 20, 2022

  • Bond Architects updates high school plans to reflect 123,000 square feet
  • Art Bond mentions that they are already working with an outside estimator to ensure they are staying within the budget, and that they have had multiple recent projects bidding below their estimates.
  • Austin Jones asks how they are hedging for inflation, to which Bond replies that they are carrying a 4% contingency to cover escalation.  Bond continues to explain that they are expecting an additional 4% starting next year.  Dr. Berger comments that figure would protect us, and it is pointed out that all of these increasing costs are figured into the total project cost, and not just the cost of construction.
  • Dr. Berger states that if the bids come in great, prop 1967 will get us further into the master plan.  If the bids come in high and prop 2025 passes, they will be able to cover the escalation in cost.

Regular Meeting – February 17, 2022

  • Bond Architects presents updated drawing for East Elementary expansion.  This plan will eliminate 4 classrooms of the 8 originally planned.
  • Updated high school drawings reflect a square footage reduction to 117,320 square feet.
  • Dr. Berger mentions the construction costs and issues neighboring districts have seen.  They wish to show the community that they are being fiscally responsible and transparent by officially updating the cost estimate, monitoring and controlling costs, and are on top of the situation.
  • Mary Groeper mentions the neighboring districts with cost overruns, and states that is the question she is getting asked the most.  She does not want that to happen.
  • Bond Architects states that they have the high school building at $26.7 million including a 10% contingency and 4% escalation and are just below $30 million for the building and site development per their original contract.
  • Dave Mikus mentions that prop 1967 will generate enough for the entire project and asks what the purpose of prop 2025 is for.  Dr. Berger states that the intent of 2025 is to further the master plan, or if bids come in higher than $37 million, to subsidize that overage.  He adds that ESSR money (federal funds designed to help school reopen quickly and safely in the wake of the Covid-19 and to address significant learning loss by students) was used to shift savings for the school project.
  • Updated high school phase 1 estimate:  $29,998,983
  • Updated entire district expansion estimate:  $36,816,905

Regular Meeting – March 17, 2022

  • Dr. Berger offers the final bond issue presentation prior to the election.  He states that we will be able to obtain $37 million in general obligation bonds for a 20 year period (Prop 1967), and $15 million in a lease purchase agreement for 25 years (Prop 2025) in order to obtain alternates.
  • Bond Architects presents plan alternates to include a football stadium with turf field, performance gym, auditorium, baseball & softball fields with parking, and reiterates that they have included a 4% escalation, and is following the numbers on a daily basis.
  • Alternates estimate:  $17,874,313
  • Previous high school phase 1 estimate: $36,816,905
  • Entire district expansion estimate prior to election:  $54,691,218 

Meet The Candidate Night – March 28, 2022

  • Frank Zykan has been in contact with several parties which run commercial construction operations, as well as representatives of area districts which have experienced overruns.  He has run his own numbers based on these conversations and has come to the conclusion that the current high school project estimates are $10 million short of the current cost.
  • Throughout the election cycle members of the community and other candidates were vocal about this issue.  Despite their support for the new high school due to need, they knew that serious inflation had been an ongoing issue and that the figures being used by the architect were not realistic.

Election – April 5, 2022

  • Both Prop 1967 and Prop 2025 are approved by voters with overwhelming support.

Regular Meeting – April 19, 2022

  • Previous estimate for phase 1 of new high school plus all alternates:  $54,691,218
  • Updated estimate for phase 1 of new high school plus all alternates:  $54,929,858

Regular Meeting – May 19, 2022

  • Board approves issuance of bonds in the sum of $37 million, along with lease purchase which will only be partially exercised.
  • Bond Architects still holding escalation at 4%, and contingency at 5%

Board Workshop – June 16, 2022

  • The third party estimate is expected in July, despite the claim of Bond Architects at the January 2022 meeting stating that they had already engaged an outside estimator to ensure their estimates were accurate.

Board Meeting – July 21, 2022

  • Third party estimates are released.
  • Dr. Berger explains that these are not the bids.  He continues that this is the due process and due diligence that prevents them from being blind-sided on bid day, and to prevent what happened in other districts from happening here.
  • It is suggested that funds from Prop 2025 could be used to subsidize the Prop 1967 projects in the event of cost overuns.
  • Previous entire district expansion estimate:  $43,800,108
  • Third party entire district expansion estimate:  $51,607,739
  • Third party estimate including alternates:  $66,924,075

Regular Meeting – August 25, 2022

  • Frank Zykan speaks at the board meeting.  He suggests that the lack of proper research and improper due diligence has brought us to where we are today.  By not using accurate numbers prior to the election, many in the community felt that this was a bait and switch.
  • Updated entire district expansion estimate:  $51,391,516
  • Updated expansion estimate with alternates $65,723,474
  • Alternates Includes stadium, performance gym, baseball & softball fields

Special Meeting – November 15, 2022

  • Bids for phase 1 of the new high school and East Elementary expansion are presented to the board for their consideration.
  • 8 contractors bid for East Elementary expansion.
  • Average bid:  $2,120,080
  • Low bid: $1,989,000 (four classrooms & shelter)
  • 3 contractors bid for phase 1 of new high school.
  • Average bid:  $50,529,000
  • Low bid: $49,688,000 (core building, site work, grass athletic fields)
  • Alternate 1 bid includes a complete football stadium with turf field, rubber track, bleachers, press box, flagpole, lighting, scoreboard.   $3,456,000.
  • Alternate 2 bid includes a performance gym with scoreboard, bleachers, locker rooms, coach offices, restrooms, concessions, and A/V room.  $8,375,000.
  • Alternate 3 bid includes a complete baseball field with lighting, bull pen, dugouts, concessions, restrooms, and paved parking.  $1,904,000.
  • Total for all options bid: $73,854,451

Regular Meeting – November 17, 2022

  • Board votes to accept low bid from Aspire Construction Services in the amount of $1,989,000 to construct a four classroom (storm shelter rated) addition at Wright City East Elementary.
  • Final East Elementary cost: $1,989,000

Special Meeting – November 22, 2022

  • Board votes to accept low bid from Wright Construction in the amount of $49,688,000 to perform sitework, and construct phase 1 of the new high school.
  • Board also votes to accept low bids from Wright Construction to construct alternates 1 & 3 in the amount of $5,360,000.
  • Final phase 1 high school cost: $55,048,000

Current Standing:

  • Elementary expansion cost:  $1,989,000
  • High school & alternates cost:  $55,048,000
  • Updated estimate for remaining projects:  $2,112,583
  • Architect’s fees:  $4,335,009
  • Contingencies:  $3,000,000
  • Total project cost:  $66,484,592

What Voters Were Told Vs. What Voters Are Paying For

  • Voters were told the East Elementary expansion would cost $1,600,000 and are going to pay $1,989,000.  That’s an increase of 24.3%.
  • Voters were told that the phase 1 core project of the school along with the associated sitework would cost $29,998,983 and are going to pay $49,688,000.  That’s an increase of 65.6%.
  • Voters were told that renovations to the existing high school and administrative offices would cost $1,569,400.  This project is being held for future bidding and is currently projected to cost $2,112,583.  That’s an increase of 34.6%
  • Voters were told that Prop 1967 in the amount of $37,000,000 would cover the entire core project, and that Prop 2025 in the amount of $15,000,000 would cover extras at the high school taking us closer to the master plan.  Neither of these statements were accurate.

How Close Was Frank?

  • On March 28, 2022, Frank told an audience at a meet the candidate forum that his research indicated that the then estimated cost of the high school project was short by $10,000,000.
  • Total estimated cost of the high school prior to election:  $29,998,000
  • Estimated architect fees on that amount:  $2,099,860
  • Estimated contingencies on that amount:  $1,199,959
  • Total:  $33,297,819
  • Total plus $10 mil:  $43,297,819
  • Escalation between prediction and project start date: $5,295,738
  • Frank’s prediction:  $48,593,557
  • Actual bid:  $49,688,000
  • Frank was short by $1,094,443  (2.25%)
  • Architect’s prediction (escalation included):  $34,629,731
  • Architect was short by $15,058,269 (43.48%)