“In today’s economy it’s sometimes hard to find a silver lining, but I think maybe we found it,” Architect James Copeland told the Richmond County Board of Education
There were 11 bids submitted to build Chalk Road — a facility which will replace Ashley Chapel, Cordova and Roberdel elementary schools.
“Construction costs are down and contractors are competitive, and boy did they go at it this time around,” Copeland said.
Late last year, Copeland presented the board with estimates putting the cost of the school closer to $16 million. The bids opened Monday came from as far away as Atlanta.
Shelco of Charlotte was awarded the project by a unanimous vote. Shelco had a base bid of $9.8 million. With some additions, the price rose to $10.5 million, but the school board had $14 million budgeted for construction.
The $10.5 million includes the restoration of the curb and guttering and a contingency of $312,000 for unanticipated expenses. The first alternate encompasses four additional classrooms at a cost of $240,000. Richmond County Schools Superintendent Dr. George Norris told the board the classrooms would increase the maximum enrollment from 500 to 600 students.
The second alternate included $20,000 for a metal roof instead of an asphalt shingle roof in the original plans.
After factoring in land purchase, design fees, boilers, utility connections, furniture and other associated costs; the project will cost less than $12.8 million.
At the base bid price, the school would cost around $120 per square foot, Copeland told the board.
“These are amazingly good prices,” he said. “Probably the best prices you’ll see in the state this year and I think you have a quality building to go along with these good prices.”
He also told the board his firm, Moseley Architects, contacted Union County where Shelco recently constructed a school, and told the board there were “glowing reviews.”
Discussion was sparse, but board member Tom McInnis did engage Copeland.
“The reputation of this company does proceed them,” he said.
Later in the discussion, McInnis alluded to an exchange between he and Copeland last year, when the $16 million estimate was part of the discussions.
“What about the contractor who did those schools in Forsyth County for $114 per square foot,” he grinned. “I still want one of those.”
The restoration of the curb and guttering was pulled out from the bid and entered separately into the motion the board voted on. Associate Superintendent Dr. Robert Beck recommended the board attach these at a cost of $140,000, and Copeland discussed plans to change the design from a sheeting method to a collection and piping method, which will be re-negotiated with the contractor.
The board also unanimously passed resolutions to confer to Norris the authority to execute contracts with Shelco, and with CSX Railroad for easements and permits.
In addition, the board voted unanimously to accept separate bids on BAS systems and boilers for the HVAC system of the building, at a total cost of $326,000.
Beck also offered the board the option of including approximately $730,000 worth of technology to be incorporated in the classrooms at a later date.
“Our chief financial officer has informed me that if we don’t go forward with that during construction, there probably will not be other funds available for it,” he said. “But I’d like to remind you that if you go for the whole enchilada, you’re still over $700,000 under budget.”
Should the board approve this measure, the total cost of the project would remain under budget at around $13.2 million.