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Capital project bids come in over budget, Board to discuss options
Construction, relocation to be delayed until summer of 2017

May 24, 2016 -- Because the bids for construction work came in significantly higher than the money earmarked for it in the $14.8 million capital project referendum approved by voters last March, the Marcellus Board of Education now must review its options – all of which include pushing back the project at least one year.

Nearly every bid the district received for construction-related work – general contracting, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and site work – came in over the construction costs estimated by the architect, SEI Design Group.

Drawings and specifications for the renovation plans – which include overhauling academic spaces, corridors, offices, the main entrance and locker rooms in the high school, and some ventilation and security improvements at K.C. Heffernan Elementary and Driver Middle schools  – were submitted to the New York State Education Department for review last fall. The district received SED approval in late March 2016, put out a request for bids in April and opened the bids on May 19. The first hammer swing was expected in late June.

“The combined cost of the low bids for each trade came in about 24 percent higher than we expected,” Interim Superintendent of Schools Judith C. Pastel said. “The district simply doesn’t have enough money to start and complete the project as currently configured, so we must postpone so the Board of Education can assess its options.”

The Board’s options include: 1) reducing the scope, or the breadth of work to be undertaken in the project; or 2) presenting another referendum to the community, asking for additional funding to support the project as planned. (By law, the district cannot spend more on the project than the total dollar amount approved by voters.)

Regardless of which path the Board takes, given the nature of the renovations, construction must begin in the summer months when the buildings are largely empty, hence, the one-year postponement. However, because roof work at KCH and the high school already was bid separately and a contract awarded, that work will continue as planned this summer.

Board members have scheduled a community meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, in the DMS cafeteria Marcellus High School auditorium, to discuss the status of the project and outline the district’s options. Students will not be relocating at this time as originally planned.

“The people of Marcellus entrust us not only with the education of their children but also the responsible stewardship of their tax dollars,” Dr. Pastel said. “We know that trust absolutely depends on transparency and open, two-way communication. So I hope residents will consider attending the meeting on May 31.”


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