Market conditions, however, were the reason behind the sharp drop in costs, Vensel said.
"The bidding atmosphere was a lot better than in April 2002. The whole climate changed," he said.
This time around, 12 general contractors, plus various electrical, plumbing and other contractors, submitted bids by the Jan. 12 deadline.
"It was an extremely competitive market. It was advantageous for us," Vensel said, pointing out the bid was more than $400,000 below budget. "We're very pleased."
Last week, the school board accepted the bid from general contractor Lobar Construction.
Vensel said construction will begin later this spring or in early summer. The earliest the school will be ready to be occupied will be in the fall of 2004.
"That's being optimistic. There is a possibility that could occur," he said.
At some point, the old building will be torn down. In the meantime it can be used by the school district during future construction at other schools.
Building the new school in Scotland became a priority in 2001 because of its age and the boom of new students expected from the growing residential area, officials have said.
Portions of the school date back to 1916, with the majority built in 1960.
The school was designed to be two-deep, meaning it has the facilities for two classes of each grade level. However, last year 298 students squeezed into the school with as many as 30 children in a classroom and a third third-grade classroom added to accommodate 61 children at that grade level.
The new school will be built on the same property and be three-deep, with the central core large enough to house students should the school ever be expanded to five-deep, officials have said.
Only one of the 18 elementary schools in the district is three-deep. The remaining are one- or two-deep.