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School bids blow by budget

SoVaNow.com / September 18, 2019
Plans for construction of Mecklenburg County’s consolidated secondary school complex took a hit Tuesday after bids from general contractors came in between $10 million and $20 million over the $120 million construction budget set by Mecklenbug County supervisors.

The three bids — from Cleveland Construction, Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., Branch Builds of Roanoke and Charles Perry Partners, also of Roanoke — ranged from a low price of $129,600,000 to a high of $137,554,848.

Cleveland Construction submitted the apparent low bid, which was already nearly $10 million over the $120 million price tag that supervisors agreed to pay to build the facility and to purchase the Baskerville school site, and pay consultants, infrastructure and other project costs and inspection fees.

The other two bids, by Roanoke-based Branch Builds and Charles Perry Partners, were for $132,028,000 and $137,554,848, respectively.

Neither County Administrator Wayne Carter nor county supervisor Claudia Lundy, chair of the Joint Education Committee, reacted as the bids were read aloud, and both left the meeting without comment.

Following the presentation of bids, school trustees Glenn Edwards, Kenny Johnson and Dora Garner huddled with the project architects, Eddie Evans and Billy Upton, along with Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols and members of the Central Office staff. They included Brian Dalton, operations and facilities manager for the school division, and Finance Director Christy Peffer. Joining the discussion were representatives from Skanska, the construction management firm for the consolidated school project.

Together, they discussed a path forward that would not include shedding design aspects of a building that the Virginia Department of Education claims barely meets its minimum standards for school facilities.

Billy Upon, the lead architect for Ballou, Justice Upton, based in Richmond, said that when the project started, the $120 million budget approved by supervisors should have been sufficient to cover the cost of the new facility. No one could predict the boom to the construction market that is currently taking place and that is driving up expenses, Upton said.

He and others estimate that Mecklenburg County may have to spend nearly $154 million to complete work on the secondary school complex.

The architects and consultants say actual costs must account for land acquisition ($1,788,032), fees for the architects and engineers ($10,858,420), a construction contingency fund ($5,184,000), allowances for furniture, fixtures and equipment ($3,118,750), plus other costs.

These include another $500,000 for technology, athletic equipment, maintenance equipment, small wares and barn stalls, and $2,906,060 in other miscellaneous costs such as code reviews, inspection fees, testing, construction management, commissioning, relocation of fiber optic cable, electrical lines and other utilities, legal and closing costs, wetland permits, grave site relocation, advertising, moving expenses, and the purchase of property easements.

Those expenses, when added to the construction costs, total $153,955,262 — a number that is nearly $34 million over the total budget that the Board of Supervisors fixed for the project.

The miscellaneous costs also do not include an amount for sewer infrastructure work such as new sewer lines from the school to the Boydton wastewater treatment plant, and pump station or improvements to the roads surrounding the school and its entrance. The estimate for this work is upwards of $6 million.

It is unclear if these numbers will push the school’s opening beyond the projected August 2022 target date. So far, the site at the corner of Highway 58 and Wooden Bridge Road in Baskerville has not been excavated or prepared for construction, which was scheduled to begin in a couple of months.

No contract was awarded at Tuesday’s bid opening.

Members of the Joint Education Committee, comprised of members of the School Board and Board of Supervisors, say they will meet Thursday at 5 p.m. to discuss how to proceed.

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Comments

I knew this would happen! Remodel the old schools.

Comments

They should have used the old MCC site instead of the site they chose. That's what happens when you are try to be underhanded!

Comments

Wow! 34million OVER total construction budget. We were told the consolidated schools would be the cheaper option. Should have listened to what the people of Mecklenburg County wanted, 2 new High Schools. This has had bad ju-ju written all over it from the very beginning starting with the consolidation and the location. I will say it again, should have listened to the people of Mecklenburg County!! Now, how do we get ourselves out of this pickle??


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