Bid process for renovations to Culpeper High School to start over
BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
The Culpeper County School Board Monday night voted to start the Culpeper High School renovation bid process all over again.
“I move we reject all bids because they exceeded the funds we have available,” Vice-chairman Elizabeth Hutchins said after a 45-minute closed session on the issue.
Moments later the Board voted to modify the renovation plans and re-bid the project. Both votes were unanimous.
Last week five contractors submitted bids that ranged from $19.9 million to $20.9 million. The School Board has about $17 million available for the project.
Last November Culpeper County voters approved a $21 million bond referendum to fund renovations of Culpeper High, which was completed in 1969 and has not been upgraded since.
Of that total, $1 million was needed to handle the bond transaction and other financial costs, $1 million has already been spent on architect fees and $2 million is needed for testing, furnishings and other soft costs.
Construction projects manager Hunter Spencer said after Monday night’s meeting that modifying plans might not be all that easy. “To make up that kind of money, we’re going to have to cut a number of things,” he said. Spencer stressed, however, that nothing essential would be left out.
Energy and technical systems in the 43-year-old school will still be replaced and “we’re still going to get the energy efficiency that we wanted.”
A number of add-ons, like an entrance garden and other cosmetic features, might go by the wayside, he said.
“We might use less expensive doors and cut back on the number of windows,” Spencer said.
School officials had hoped to accept a bid Monday night and get the project started in October. The original schedule called for the renovations to be completed by the beginning of school in 2014. One hall at the high school was gutted this summer and is ready for contractors to come in.
School Board Chairman Bob Houck said last night that he expects the re-bidding process to set the project back as much as three months.
That may be an optimistic viewpoint. Spencer said that he thinks it will take at least a month for architects to rework plans that must then be brought before a 17-member school oversight committee.
That committee must then send its recommendation to the School Board which must re-advertise the project once the new plans are approved. That would mean that the project could not begin before the middle of winter with weather adding one more factor into an already uncertain schedule.