By Dan Hust
JEFFERSONVILLE April 16, 2002 With program and staffing cuts potentially looming for the financially strapped Sullivan West school district, officials were relieved Friday to hear that the second round of bids on the new Lake Huntington high school project had come in under budget.
It was a welcome relief from the budget issues affecting every school district in the state, thanks to September 11, 2001 and state legislators inability to pass a budget on time.
According to Superintendent Michael Johndrow, the bids on everything from plumbing to electrical work totalled around $20.5 million, just under the approximately $21 million remaining for the project.
Three bids for sitework, telecommunications and casework were already awarded when the first round of bidding concluded last year, but the rest of the bids came in high enough to put the district more than $8 million over budget on the $28 million project.
This time around, said Johndrow, we literally went through and cut out $8 million of stuff.
So things like a pitched roof, six colors of brick and certain segments of the air conditioning system were removed from the project specifications, utilizing what Turner Construction Company officials call value engineering.
Plus, said Johndrow, the board didnt want to cut programs or square footage.
However, if the board accepts the bids at its next meeting this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Callicoon, theyll have about $500,000 extra, so some of the deleted items perhaps a theater balcony or a greenhouse may get put back in, said Johndrow.
Johndrow also credited a softening construction market as a reason for the better bids due in no small part, he felt, to the events of September 11, 2001 and the generally slower winter months. (Bids were let out last year in June.)
The timing wasnt the best [originally], he remarked. But we were sure we were going to get this done.
Sitework is all but completed at the high school site off Route 52 in Lake Huntington. If all goes well, Johndrow expects construction to begin this May.