TORONTO - Toronto City Schools opened its new high school construction project to bidding on Wednesday afternoon, but estimates came back higher than expected, according to Superintendent Fred Burns.
"We're a bit disappointed because the bids came in over the expected amount by about $1.2 million, or 10 percent. What happens now is we're just going to have to go back and make some changes where we can," said Burns.
Burns said the facets of construction for the approximately $19 million project requiring bidders includes $7.5 million for general trades; $164,000 for fire protection; $1 million for plumbing; $1.8 million for heating and cooling; $1.5 million for electrical work; and $859,000 for technology, but aspects of this will have to be examined closer now.
Voters approved a 6.5-mill tax levy during 2010 election. The school improvement bond issue, for 5.95-mills, along with the 0.5-mill continuous maintenance levy will equal approximately $8.2 million over a period of 37 years. The amount also covers renovations to the high school stadium. The 0.5-mill tax is required for the purpose of construction, enlargement, renovation and financing of the permanent improvements.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission agreed to cover $11,739,413, according to Burns.
He said the school district will go through a process called value engineering, which will look at different components of the project and at areas that can be substituted for another that are less costly.
Burns said officials will talk with the bidders about possible causes for the higher estimates and will inquire as to what they believe could be modified when the projects goes back out for rebidding.
"If we can find out from the contractors what needs to be changed, we won't have to change the whole design. We expect to have it ready for rebidding in a month to six weeks," said Burns.
The original estimates were completed by the project's architects, Lesko and Associates of Cleveland, and construction manager and were approved by the OSFC, according to Burns, but he says that for whatever reason the bidders believed the project will cost more than what is allotted.
"We're very confident that we can fix this problem. This makes our schedule a bit tighter, but we feel it can still be completed by Aug. 13, 2013, weather permitting," said Burns.
The project originally was scheduled for completion in the summer of 2013.
"We didn't see this coming, to be honest, but the people of Toronto have worked too hard to get the levy bond issue passed, and we will make sure that they end up with a quality building built on time and on budget," said Burns.
He also said that he will be making a call to parents, students and staff to inform them of the plans of future procedures.
"There isn't any wiggle room on the 10 percent that we're over. We just have to stay close to the vest, as they say, and we'll get it built."