As we outlined in our May 2021 Newsletter, our planned construction of new bathrooms, showers and an outdoor solar shaded classroom facility was put on pause due to a spike in construction costs that exceeded our estimates by 60% or more.
Now, as the 2021-22 school year gets underway, we wanted to share what's ahead with respect to our facilities construction and fundraising.
As a quick recap, we raised $547,000 as of spring 2020, with an estimated construction price tag of around $500,000 for our sustainable bathroom facility. Shortly after, we received several project bids, the lowest of which was $825,000. We were unsuccessful is finding funds through our partners to bridge this fundraising gap.
Consequently, construction planned for summer 2021 did not happen, and while disappointing, we are excited to refocus on hiring additional education staff and resuming in-person education programs.
What's next for Cooper Facilities upgrades?
Construction costs remain volatile, but are predicted to stabilize in the coming twelve months. This gives us a small bit of hope that future bids may be closer to our original projections. But we are also realistic - we must keep fundraising for Phase I (bathrooms and showers) while designing and fundraising for future phases as well. To that end, we are working with our architects at Swaim Associates and meeting with supporters.
Our current design work with Swaim includes renovated sleeping cabins. We are simultaneously fundraising to begin designs on expanded indoor classroom space. We are excited to report that we have received interest from major donors on both our cabin and classroom improvement projects.
Which is to say, we still need your help. Any funds raised as part of our previous Phase I fundraising campaign are earmarked for the bathroom and showers complex. Future fundraising will be unrestricted and will help underwrite major facilities upgrades ahead. Our aim is to begin construction in late spring/summer of 2022.
We are, as always, grateful for your support, and eager to connect with anyone who is interested in supporting capital improvements at The Cooper Center for Environmental Learning.