The Central Greene School District is temporarily scaling back its plans to renovate the high school and delaying the timeline to move middle school students into that building after receiving no bids from general contractors on the construction project.
The school board decided during its Tuesday night meeting to break the project into separate pieces with the focus now on constructing new classrooms at the high school in order to get students out of the aging Margaret Bell Miller Middle School by the holiday break at the end of this calendar year.
Work to convert the high school’s pool complex into an auxiliary gym will now be delayed until next year due to concerns about available construction supplies and workers to complete that portion of the job.
The board learned of the issues with the project after bids were opened March 24 and no companies submitted offers to be the general contractor or to perform electrical work. Dan Kiefer of Massaro Corp. told the board Tuesday about their issues in securing bids, leaving them without the ability to move forward on the $6 million high school renovation project. Kiefer said the biggest concerns were in securing materials due to supply chain issues, and the construction schedule that would have begun in May with work being completed before the start of next school year in August.
“They felt the schedule was a bit tight,” Kiefer told the board of the concerns from contractors.
That brought tough questions from board members who questioned why so few bidders came forward and whether Massaro, who is the construction manager advising them, was overconfident about his ability to get the project done in such a short timeframe.
“Why did it kind of hit us hard without much warning?” board President James Howard said.
Kiefer said three general contractors seemed to be interested in bidding on the project in the days before the deadline, but “bailed” at the last minute.
The delays leave the school district in a lurch, as there are concerns about the suitability of Margaret Bell Miller Middle School and whether there will be significant maintenance costs to repair its heating systems if it has to be used for another winter. With the hope that students can be moved out of the middle school as quickly as possible, Kiefer and architect Rob Rensi of Hayes Design Group presented an option of moving forward with classroom renovations being performed now and delaying construction on an auxiliary gymnasium until next year.
“So, what are we losing here?” Superintendent Kevin Monaghan said.
Rensi said the project would ultimately be identical, but it would just be broken into different pieces to make both parts more attractive for contractors.
“It’s all the same scope,” Rensi said. “You’re just separating it into two packages.”
The timeline to finish the classroom renovations would also be pushed back until December, giving contractors more time to secure materials and finish the job. That would allow middle school teachers and students to move into the renovated high school on Zimmerman Drive in Franklin Township over holiday break, which could be extended to give them more time.
Matt Blair, who serves as the assistant to the superintendent, said once the students are moved into the high school building, administrators would find ways to keep a normal class structure despite not having the auxiliary gym, which also could double as a cafeteria.
Margaret Bell Miller was built in 1928 and has been slated for closure for several years due to its age. Monaghan added that it was imperative to move quickly on the project to avoid any issues with the current middle school building located on South Morgan Street in Waynesburg.
“The important thing is to get the kids out of Margaret Bell Miller and into that (high school) building,” Monaghan said.
The school board is expected to vote on advertising the classroom renovation portion of the project during a special meeting Tuesday. The rest of the project involving the conversion of the pool area into an auxiliary gym will likely be put out to bid this fall with construction happening next year.
“The more we can put (the contractors) in control of their own destiny in acquiring materials, the better,” Kiefer said.
It’s not known whether the changes to the project will increase the estimated $6 million cost for the renovations. The individual expense for each portion of the project was not released during Tuesday night’s board meeting.