Bids for Eisenhower project approved

Bids have been approved for the Eisenhower Middle High School expansion and renovation projects as the Warren County School District seeks to convert the facility into a K-12 entity.

A total of $16,494,389 in bids for the renovations, as well as an additional $5,156,086 for the elementary expansion, were unanimously approved by the school district’s board of directors at its meeting Monday night.

The base bid for both the renovations and expansion was awarded to E.E. Austin, Inc., coming in at $8,494,000 and $3,661,000, respectively.

Dr. Norbert Kennerknecht, district director of buildings and grounds, told the board that the district explored procuring insurance through the Owners Controlled Insurance Program in lieu of the contractors providing insurance.

While he said that the program “could save us significant amounts of money for construction costs,” Kennerknecht explained that pursuing its own insurance, as opposed to accepting contractor insurance, would have cost the district an additional $272,264 in total costs.

“It was a good exercise,” he said. “It was not in our interest to pursue this.”

Board member Tom Knapp asked whether the fact that the district pursued its own insurance drove down the contractor’s insurance quotes.

“I really don’t think so,” Kennerknecht said.

He also told the board that he received a call from one of the selected contractors earlier Monday indicating that it included additional costs in its bid due to a misunderstanding. Making the call “speaks highly of the firm,” Kennerknecht said. “We adjusted all of our numbers accordingly.” He added that he was optimistic that the issue will speak to the integrity of the company’s work.

In addition to the bids, a $178,000 bid from Canfield Development, Inc. for asbestos removal for the project was also approved.

With bids in hand, the district was able to pass several parts of the PlanCon process, the process outlined by the state for the district to receive reimbursement for the project.

Part F, Attachment C, deals with post-bid documentation. Part G and H were also approved. Part G, where state reimbursement eligibility is ultimately determined, “is concerned with actual construction bids,” according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Part H addresses the funding components of the project.

Last June, the board approved a resolution permitting the district to issue a maximum of $32.8 million in low-to-no interest federal Qualified Zone Academy Bonds. Last October, the district approved an issuance of an additional $5.2 million which did not increase the maximum limit approved in June.

QZAB funds can only be used for renovations. A traditional bond issue will cover the cost of the expansion.