POTTSTOWN -- It will cost borough taxpayers almost a quarter-million dollars to install a new security system at eight district buildings in the coming months.

Thursday the school board unanimously awarded the bid for new security systems to ASG Security on Swamp Pike, Gilbertsville.

The project will include cameras, monitors and “card-swipe” entry access at selected doors.

The base bid was $191,681, but a series of additional add-ons requested by the district pushed the collective price up to $240,400.

Linda Adams, the school district’s business manager, explained that the district also wanted the company to provide maintenance and service the equipment, along with monitoring and special alarms for doors without card-swipe devices.

School board member Robert Hartman questioned why there was such a difference — of nearly $600,000 — between the lowest and highest bidders for the project. The highest bid for the project was about $790,000, Adams told the board last week.

Adams said she and her staff had checked and double-checked the equipment list and could come up with no explanation for the difference.

“We did our due diligence and in the process we disqualified three of the six bidders because they didn’t meet the specifications, and we checked the references and we got good reports on workmanship, so I don’t know what to tell you,” Adams said.

“We did just about everything we could think of to see if something was wrong with the lowest bid and we didn’t find anything that would disqualify them,” she said.

The equipment that will be installed will be “mobile,” Adams said, meaning that if one or more of the district’s five elementary schools are closed or renovated, the equipment can be moved out and used elsewhere.

Adams said because the middle school and high school were more recently renovated, they have more cameras and more modern security systems, and those schools would not be receiving a larger share of the new equipment simply because they are larger buildings.

Although the contract gives ASG six months to complete the installation,

Adams said, “They’re anticipating it will take three to four months, max.”

School board member Philip Thees, who along with two more of the five candidates defeated in the primary was attending his final school board meeting, said the cost had risen because equipment had to be provided for so many buildings.

“This is an early start on the installment plan for keeping all five neighborhood schools,” Thees said.