|Pottstown elementary bids come in under budget, Mercury 4-23-13|
By Evan Brandt
POTTSTOWN — The $13.9 million in bids for the renovations at the three elementary schools still to be upgraded came in about $700,000 under budget.
On Monday night, the school board approved the bids that together total $13,864,005, according to Business Manager Linda Adams.
Board Vice President Robert Hartman Jr., who chairs the board’s facilities committee, said the total is “2-to-3 percent less than we had budgeted.”
Adams said the total number includes an adequate contingency fund for unanticipated costs as well as a $2.8 million “guaranteed energy savings project,” which is anticipated to pay for itself with savings in energy costs.
“We really did do better than we had anticipated,” Adams said Tuesday.
The renovation and expansion work will begin in earnest at Lincoln, Franklin and Rupert elementary schools on June 11, Adams said.
Work on Barth Elementary School began last year, since no expansion was required, only renovation.
The district’s plan is to close Edgewood Elementary School as well as move all the district’s fifth graders into the middle school.
However, because the work and expansion at Rupert is so much more extensive than the other two schools, the board decided to move all the Rupert students and staff into Edgewood during the next school year so the contractors can have the run of Rupert.
Adams said with the awarding of the bids, contractors can begin ordering supplies and doing prep work in off-hours.
Further, in addition to the staff at Rupert moving into Edgewood, and all fifth grade staff at Lincoln and Franklin will have to pack up all classrooms for the asbestos abatement, which is the first stage of any renovation project, Adams said.
“The work will be done in stages. We’ll clear one area, do the abatement, then move the materials back and move on to the next area,” she explained.
With a bid of $7,589,00, the winner of the primary general contractor bid was E.L. Stuebner out of Reading.
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning bid was awarded to Worth and Company, out of Pipersville, with a value of $3,930,000.
An Emmaus firm, DeWalt Plumbing, won the plumbing bid with a bid of $931,000.
The electrical work will be done by H.B Frazer our of Reading thanks to a bid of $1,413,505.
Overall, the district has borrowed and budgeted $24.2 million for the work at all four elementary schools, and while savings were realized in this latest round of bidding, bids for the Barth project, begun one year earlier, came in at $4,988,738, $861,000 higher than original estimates.
In September, Damien Spahr of Reynolds Construction had predicted the bids for the remaining three schools would come in $900,000 to $1 million less than estimates because of the economies of scale made possible by doing all three construction projects at the same time.
The awarding of the bids is further down the time line of an elementary project than any other discussion — a discussion which has been ongoing on and off for nearly 15 years.
In addition to awarding the bids, the school board also approved the submission of documents to the Pennsylvania Department of Education as part of the reimbursement process.
Although Gov. Corbett has frozen all new applications to the reimbursement program, known as PlanCon, Pottstown’s plans had already been submitted.
Still, there is a concern.
Adams conceded “that could happen to us.”