School leaders confident bid can be negotiated

Published 8:28 am Thursday, April 9, 2015

School board chair Chad Fuller said he is “shocked and disappointed” the lowest bid for the construction of the new high school came in $11 million over the $56.6 million budget, but added meetings are under way to try to align the numbers.

Fuller acknowledged rumors probably began the day after the bids were submitted and wasn’t surprised to hear one of those included the possibility of scratching plans for a football stadium. He said no one has gone into panic mode and no changes have been made to the project.

“We have met and will continue to meet with the architect to discuss what we can do to get this project within the parameters of the available funding, and we hope to have this worked out very soon. Changes may need to be made, and we don’t know yet what those will be, but will do everything we can, and we are optimistic we will be able to protect the integrity of this project.”

Eight contractors were pre-certified to bid, and bids were received from four. Superintendent Dr. Darrin Hartness said all the bids were over the projected cost but said he was confident they would be able to bring the project within the parameters of the budget.

The lowest base bid was from Branch & Associates, Inc. of Roanoke, Va., at $59.1 million, and the highest base bid was from Rentenbach of Greensboro, at $63.5 million. Other bidders were New Atlantic Contracting of Winston-Salem, at $61.3 million and Edifice, Inc. of Charlotte at $61.9 million.

However, there were 19 bid alternates, some of which could be deducted and some added, and if the board didn’t use any of the add-ons and exercised all but one of the possible deductible items, the low bid from Branch & Associates would become $55.8 million, Hartness said. Two of those alternate items are softball and baseball fields and the use of one type of flooring over another.

State law allows boards to enter into negotiations with the lowest bidder to make changes in plans as necessary to bring the contract price in line with funding.

Fuller said his sources indicate construction prices have risen 15 to 20 percent within the past six to eight months.

The school board members will discuss the bids at their meeting April 14.