Board awards $18M contract for H.S. North

Board awards $18M contract for H.S. North

School officials say

renovations project on target for June start date

By alison granito

Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN — The third time appears to be the charm in the Board of Education’s quest to award a contract for the renovations on High School North, the only project yet to start under the often troubled six-year-old $78.5 million construction referendum.

According to Board President Robert W. Bucco, the board awarded an $18 million contract at last week’s board meeting. Details about the contract were not available at press time.

"The only thing I can say is that this is great," said Bucco Thursday.

"It has been a long time, and there have been so many problems. Thank God, we can finally give North its due and get this project done," he added.

Bucco also said that the district’s June 1 target date to start construction on North still appears on schedule.

The contract award this time around comes on the heels of the rejection of two rounds of bids that came back higher than expected.

The board voted at a special meeting in March to reject the latest round of bids on the project after they came in approximately $3 million over the estimated cost.

At the time, school officials said many of the bids on the project came in around $21 million, which was the entire amount set aside for the project.

An initial round of bids last fall on the project was also rejected.

Superintendent of Schools Jack DeTalvo had said that accepting bids at that amount would not allow the district to set aside enough contingency money to cover unexpected complications over the course of the renovations.

In order to bring this round of bids down from those received in March, and trim money from the project, school officials eliminated a seven-classroom addition slated for the project, which would save the district the $3 million needed to bring the project into budget range.

The addition would have housed five specialty rooms, including two art rooms and three specialized computer labs. School officials had said that all the specialty rooms would be relocated to other areas of the building in order to make sure there was parity between North and High School South.

The cuts to the project sparked an angry outburst from the North community, with parents, students and teachers flooding Board of Education meetings to protest what they saw as unequal treatment between the two high schools in town, and to bring to light what they felt was the extremely poor condition of their school.

DeTalvo told the crowd at that meeting that despite the cut of the addition from the project, the program at the high school would be protected in order to make sure that North was able to offer its students the same opportunities offered to students across town at South.

The project at North is the last project to begin under the district’s $78.5 million construction referendum, passed in 1996.

Voters approved an additional $10.5 million in funds last December, which school officials said were necessary to properly complete the work called for under the 1996 referendum.

Of the $10.5 million, $3.3 million was set aside to finish the three middle schools and South, while $6.2 million was earmarked for the project at North. The remaining $1 million will foot the bill for additional construction management costs that will be incurred due to the extended length of the projects.

At the time, school officials said they were confident that the additional money would allow them to put finishing touches on the projects already under way at South, Bayshore Middle School, Thorne Middle School, and Thompson Middle School, as well as finish all the work planned for North.