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All bids rejected by school officials

It’s back to the drawing board for Caroline County school officials planning to renovate Madison Elementary School.

The School Board on Monday night voted unanimously to reject the construction bids to renovate and add to the elementary school.

The original budget for the work was set at about $4 million—part of $25 million worth of renovations planned for the elementary school and Caroline High School approved by 81 percent of Caroline voters in a referendum last fall.

All eight bids received came in higher than the expected $4 million, the lowest coming in at $5.2 million and the highest at $5.8 million.

The school division’s Capital Improvement Plan Committee and Technical Review Committee reviewed and recommended rejecting the bids. The committees also recommended changes to their plans that would reduce the cost of the work.

Randy Jones, the architect hired by the school division to design the updates to the two schools, presented those cost-saving changes to the board Monday night.

He told the board that the major factors that put the project over budget were:

  • Site work—a stormwater containment system, which costs more than $300,000
  • Electrical work—additional technology, costing more than $400,000
  • Bad fill material found under the new classroom location, which would cost more than $100,000
  • Higher building construction costs, which were up for the first time in five years, a 5 percent increase that would cost more than $200,000.

Jones said they would focus on the original objectives for the project. Those include a new secure entrance with an expanded lobby, an expanded cafeteria, four new classrooms, two new computer labs, a new media center, a new paved bus drop-off/pickup area, parking lot paving and a cap on the school capacity of 550 students.

Jones also listed ways to cut about $1.2 million from the estimate.

Those suggestions were:

  • Reducing the site work, which would save about $500,000
  • Reducing the electrical work, saving $400,00
  • Deleting the kitchen equipment, saving $50,000
  • Reducing the general contingency allowed for change orders, saving $50,000
  • Changing the roof from metal to rubber membrane, saving $50,000
  • Eliminating the new corridor to the play room, saving $75,000
  • Using an alternate mechanical package, saving $30,000
  • Using an alternate lighting package, saving $30,000
  • Exploring classroom relocation, saving $100,000.

Under the new schedule, the revised designs would be sent to county officials for review on Sept. 8. Two weeks later, on Sept. 22, the request for proposal would be put out for bid. The new bids would be due on Oct. 23, and the School Board would act on a recommendation at its Nov. 10 meeting. A final contract could be executed on Dec. 1.

Since the bids for the elementary school were too high, the committees are taking a closer look at the design for the high school and re-evaluating so that it doesn’t go over budget.

The board will hold a special meeting in the next week to discuss the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system planned for the high school in more detail.

Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413


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