Warren construction project hits setback

The $63 million building project being undertaken by Warren Local Schools has hit a slight setback.

Superintendent Kyle Newton said Thursday that when bids for construction of the district’s new elementary school, the first building phase of the project, were opened electronically on Jan. 21, several of the bids exceeded the expert cost estimates and two failed to attract the minimum number of bids.

“We’ve started working through the process because we’re currently overbid,” Newton said. “A lot of this is driven by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission rulebook. You have to follow that, it’s sort of a roadmap for the process.”

The OFCC will invest about $39 million in the project, with the remaining $23 million being raised through a local levy approved by voters in May 2017.

“If the bids would have come in below the estimates, we could have gone ahead,” Newton said. The board was told at its January meeting that with approved bids, the work could have begun at the beginning of March.

“Now, we have to go back to each contractor and tell them we were overbid and make sure there’s a clear understanding of what they were bidding on,” he said. “There will need to be a lot of clarification about that.”

Newton noted that bids sometimes include a wrong form or a form incorrectly filled out, and also contractors and subcontractors occasionally include additional or altered features they believe add value to the work which might increase the price.

“It’s a long process, and we are in the minutiae of that process now,” he said.

The requests for the civil engineering site construction work and the window packages failed to attract the required minimum of three bids, he said, and will have to be reposted.

The usual meeting for the building project was canceled for February, he said, so the next one will be in March. The monthly regular board meeting takes place Monday at 6 p.m., preceded by committee meetings.

Newton said that because the contracts were being rebid, he could not disclose any of the numbers from the Jan. 21 round of bids.

The start of construction will probably be set back four to six weeks, he said, but that will still leave plenty of time for the deadline of getting the building roofed and enclosed by winter.

“We’ll have more detail in a couple of weeks,’ he said.

Warren Local Schools Board of Education Vice President Sidney Brackenridge said the ultimate responsibility for bringing the project in at the estimated cost lies with the management firmed hired by the district, Barton-Malow Company.

“The board’s view is, that’s the responsibility of the construction manager-at-risk,” Brackenridge said. “He’s the one who has to come up with the gross maximum price, and it’s his responsibility to make these decisions.”

Brackenridge said he’s not concerned about the effect on the building timeline.

“There might be some delay, but they should still be able to finish it by winter,” he said.

Warren Local Schools building project

•Approved by voters: May 2017.

•Approximate cost: $63 million.

•Sequence of construction: Elementary school, then high school, then modifications to the existing middle school and annex building.

•Timeframe: Construction on elementary school expected to begin in late spring, high school to start in the fall, project to be complete by August 2022.

Source: Warren Local Schools.