This illustration shows how the new Edward Little High School will look when it opens in 2023. Auburn School Department

AUBURN — A report this week that the cost of school building projects in Portland has ballooned because of increases in construction expenses has raised concerns about the new Edward Little High School project.

Former City Councilor Andrew Titus speculated on social media that the cost of the project to local taxpayers could double. The city is on track to raise about $20 million through taxes and a fundraising campaign toward the total estimated cost of $122 million.

“There’s always concern, and we’re doing our best to work with the Department of Education,” Superintendent Katy Grondin said Thursday.

She said the project won’t go out to bid until this fall. In the meantime, school officials will meet with the DOE and the architect, Harriman Associates, about expected costs.

“It all goes with the economy, politics, the cost of construction and materials,” she said.

She said a percentage for increases, based on financial forecasts, is built into the estimated cost.

Voters approved the project in June 2019. Construction is set to begin in 2021 and the school is expected to open in 2023.

Harriman Associates architects at a recent meeting said everything was on schedule. More meetings and further updates are planned.

The Portland Public School system said this week it would cost $21 million more than city voters approved three years ago to finish four elementary school renovation projects.

In 2017, Portland voters overwhelmingly approved a $64.3 million Buildings for our Future bond to pay for renovating four of the city’s 10 public elementary schools: the Harrison Lyseth, Longfellow, Howard C. Reiche and Presumpscot schools.

“Although construction cost increases were built into the initial projections of the four projects, the actual costs in today’s economy far exceed what was projected,” according to a news release.

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