Now that bids are in, expenses for the $11.7 million capital project in the Tonawanda City School District are about $730,000 more than initially estimated, and the news may force district officials to cut portions of the project.

The bad news came during a project update at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday.

What is not at issue is the planned Clint Small Stadium at the high school athletic campus. Bids came in lower than expected for a large portion of the project, and project coordinators believe it can be constructed and completed in time for the fall football season.

“Because of scheduling construction, we would really like to get that project moving forward,” said Peter Buckley, project director and representative from Pike Co.

However, the bids for the general construction portion of the project – which includes renovations to the existing Tonawanda High/Middle School building and an addition that would feature new music and locker rooms, are significantly higher than expected. It ultimately may force the district to scale back its ambitions.

Project coordinators explained they deal with construction bids all the time and thought their estimates were accurate.

“I don’t know how anyone could have anticipated [this],” Buckley said. “It’s staggering how far ahead this thing came in as.”

Board members expressed their concern over the higher costs.

Jennifer Mysliwy asked if the district could revise the project and put it out for another round of bidding, but Brian Brady of Wendel Duchscherer Architects noted bids typically come in even higher.

It is not the first time Tonawanda has run into speed bumps with the capital project.

An earlier phase of the project replaced the roof at Mullen Elementary School last fall, but the damage underneath was more significant than originally thought and ended up costing the district an extra $170,000. That figure is part of the $730,000 over-budget estimate.