By Krysta Huber
Bids for the Waddell building project came in on Monday at more than $2 million higher than what the Lexington School Board had expected.
Five contractors submitted bids ranging from $14.3 million to just over $16 million. Lexington School Board Chair Leslie Straughan said she was both shocked and confused by the size of the bids.
Straughan said the board didn’t anticipate the bids to exceed $13 million, based on an estimate of about $200 per square foot for high-end construction
Still, the project architect’s estimates were slightly under $12 million. In January, OWPR, Inc. announced that its final cost estimate for the new building was $11.2 million. That number was scaled back from a November figure of $11.6 million. The lower cost was in part a result of a grant from the state for storm water control.
Lexington Superintendent Dan Lyons said he would not ask Lexington City Council to seek a loan for $14 million. This means the school board will have to make some decisions about redesigning the new building.
Lyons said OWPR, Inc. contacted the lowest bidder, Branch & Associates, as soon as the bids were received. OWPR, Inc. hoped to figure out why its estimate was significantly lower than the contractor’s bid so that it could move forward with changes to the project.
The school board and OWPR, Inc. have not indicated whether any changes have been made to the plans at this time.
The school board will hold a special session Friday at 2 p.m. at the Lexington School Board office to discuss how to move forward on the project.
Lyons said the board must reach a decision quickly. It is scheduled to appear before City Council next week to recommend the amount needed for the project’s loan.
If a construction contract isn’t signed by April 11, the city won’t have access to the bonds it hopes to issue to pay for the project. The project would then be pushed back by at least six months.