School low bids come in over budget

  • Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bid results for the Sires and Pine Trace Elementary Schools are in for DD2 — and they are higher than M.B. Kahn’s predictions.

On March 24, board members fired M.B. Kahn, the contractor that had been selected to handle all of DD2’s construction projects. The board said M. B. Kahn’s cost estimates for the project turned out to be more expensive than what had previously been determined.

Yet on May 21, the first of the two elementary schools received a low bid for $20.9 million -- closer to M.B. Kahn’s prediction of $19.8 million than District Capital Improvement Facilitator Bob Folkman’s original prediction of $15.45 million or the revised budget’s prediction of $15.4 million.

The reported low bid result places the first elementary school 36 percent over budget.

Meanwhile, the other elementary school’s low bid came in at $19.8 million, again for a school internally estimated to cost $15.45 million to build. M.B. Kahn had estimated $18.8 million including the $865,000 contingency. This puts the school at 29 percent over budget.

Combined the two schools have a low bid of $40.68 million – 32 percent over budget in total.

Folkman said DD2 officials are reviewing the bids and hope to figure out why they were so high. He said the reason could be a “combination of many things,” including the district’s tight schedule. The elementary schools are supposed to open in August 2015.

“When you get pressed a little bit the number tends to be higher,” he said. “We will plan to get as close to the budget as possible.”

Folkman will work with DD2 board members to go over possible options.

“I’m always optimistic,” he said. “I always look at the glass half full. There’s always a way to get to the finish line.”

DD2 Chairwoman Gail Hughes said there is a possibility the projects will go for re-bid. Board members will be meeting for an executive session on June 9, during which they will discuss options. Hughes does not expect a resolution to come out of executive session, and predicts board members will want to have a called-in meeting later in the week.

Hughes said board members were shocked the low bids came in over budget.

“We’re very concerned,” she said. “Any time there is a huge difference like that in price, yes, we are very concerned.”

Hughes said the board wants to find the best way to deal with taxpayers’ dollars.

“Our obligation is to taxpayers and make sure we’re being very frugal,” she said. “We’re going to look at every option.”

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