Cost of proposed Middle School

There has been a lot of discussion about the cost of the proposed Milford Middle School and how that cost estimate increased from 2015 to now. Here is a look at these numbers in detail.


The district has been working with SHP architects and Turner Construction to develop basic estimates for our building needs. It may seem unusual that we do not have a specific plan before running the bond – the exact design of the building, exact location on the MHS/MJHS campus – but this is common when building a large project such as this. We cannot bid out the job until the bond passes, and soil/other tests must be done before confirming exact plans.

However, both SHP and Turner have worked on many commercial and school building projects, so their estimates are based on extensive experience and expertise. The estimates are also in line with other school construction projects in the area.

Cost of Plans

In 2016, SHP presented the board with estimates developed by OFCC in late 2015/early 2016 for a 135,000 square foot junior high (grades 7-8), abating and demo for the current junior high, and site circulation/parking changes to make the campus more efficient. Cost for these three items was based on 2015 costs and the estimate was $36 million, or $267/square foot.

In late 2018/early 2019, SHP/Turner provided estimates they developed for a 200,000 square foot middle school (grades 6-7-8), abate/demo, and site circulation/parking changes. Cost estimate is $70.5 million, or $352/square foot.

Specifics of Cost Changes

As you can see above, cost estimates increased from $36 million in 2015/16 to $70.5 million today. This change can be explained by several factors: 1) inflation; 2) cost increases expected in OFCC numbers based on historical experience; and 3) additional square feet to house another grade.


First, let’s consider inflation. While inflation may be relatively low for general consumer items, it has been high and steady in the construction industry. Construction inflation between 2015 and now has been an average of 5%/year (per Turner Construction and government sources). Adjusting $36 million by an average of 5% annually for 4 years (2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19) results in a new cost for the previously-estimated junior high of $43.8 million. This includes 135,000 square feet to serve two grades; abate/demo the old building; and site circulation/parking changes for the campus.

If you divide the $43.8 million by 135,000 square feet, this is a cost/square foot of $324.

Cost Increases

However, when we built the Charles L. Seiplet and Boyd E. Smith elementary schools a few years ago, we found that OFCC cost factors were off by almost 10%. In fact, the district had to supplement the $25 million from OFCC with $2.4 million (+9.6%) to complete the project correctly.

When you adjust the $43.8 million upward 9.6%, that number becomes $48 million, or $355/square foot.

Additional Square Feet

The original estimate for a junior high was for 135,000 square feet to serve two grades (7-8). This is 67,500 square feet per grade.

Now that we are adding sixth grade and building a middle school, we of course need more room for those students. Adding another 67,500 square feet to the 135,000 square foot junior high results in a middle school of 200,000 square feet.

The estimate for this size building, from Turner/SHP, was $70.5 million, or $352/square foot. This is very close to the $355/square foot that the original estimate becomes when inflation and cost increases are factored in. This is also in line with other construction projects of this scope.


This table summarizes each of the steps described above:

Building Square Feet Cost Estimate $/Sq Ft
2015 MJHS Grades 7-8, abate/demo old building, new site circulation/parking 135,000 $36.0 million $267
2019 MJHS Grades 7-8, abate/demo old building, new site circulation/parking: inflation of 5% each year for 4 years 135,000 $43.8 million $324
Cost increase: 9.6% on $43.8 million 135,000 $  4.2 million $ 31
TOTAL for 2019 MJHS Grades 7-8 135,000 $48.0 million $355
2019 MMS Grades 6-7-8, abate/demo old building, new site circulation/parking 200,000 $70.5 million $352


What Happens Next?

If the bond issue passes in May, the district will proceed with securing bids, choosing contractors, and locking in prices as soon as possible. At this point, we will be able to conduct the soil and other tests to confirm the specific design and location of the buildings on the MHS/MJHS campus … which will then be on its way to becoming the MHS/MMS campus.

If we are able to save on the project overall, funds will be used for further renovations in the high school.


Milford Schools Master Building Plan: How Did We Get Here?

In January, the Milford School Board voted to put a 4.7 mill bond issue on the May 7, 2019 ballot. The bond issue would generate just under $98 million to build a middle school to replace the current Milford Junior High School; build a 1,000-seat auditorium to be shared by the high school and new middle school; renovate part of the unrenovated section of the high school; replace parts of the roof and the HVAC in the high school; and replace/renovate several athletic facilities. This bond is not part of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) partner program where the district would receive a percentage of qualified building costs (27%) back from the state. Continue reading

District continues to investigate changing school start times; option for juniors/seniors will be implemented next year

In April 2018, the Business Advisory Council (BAC) reported to the school board that moving high school and junior high start times later (ideally to 8:30 am) could provide significant health benefits to teens, whose circadian rhythms naturally lead them to a later bedtime and a physical drive to sleep later in the morning. Studies from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and even experiential data from school districts that have moved their start times support the benefits of later start times for teen students. Continue reading

Board approves resolutions to prepare for option of running bond issue in May 2019

Over the past few months, the Milford school board and administrators have been investigating options to run a bond issue in May 2019. This bond issue would replace the Junior High School and complete other construction work in the district. No decisions have been made yet – we are still researching and discussing – but in order to have the chance to run a bond next May, the board had to pass six resolutions at the November meeting. Continue reading

Five-Year Forecast indicates Milford is in sound financial shape

A school district’s Five-Year Forecast is filed with the state twice a year – in April and October (the October filing is moving to November next year). The forecast is a planning tool to help districts understand financial trends. However, just like a home budget, a school district’s forecast is just that – a projection that will change over time. Nonetheless, the forecast is very helpful in giving us an idea of the financial health of our district. Continue reading

Board votes on agreement between FC Cincinnati and school district

FC Cincinnati, the local professional soccer team that was recently awarded a franchise for Major League Soccer (MLS) beginning in 2019, has been working to approve a deal to build a world-class training facility and soccer academy in the City of Milford. At the August board meeting, the board voted to approve an agreement with FC Cincinnati. Continue reading