Atlantic School Board approves Middle School HVAC/Renovation bid


August 9th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Community School District’s Board of Education, Tuesday night, swallowed a bitter pill and approved a bid for the Middle School HVAC and Renovation Project that was nearly $750,000 over budget. Jerry Purdy, with Design Alliance Engineering said the low bidder for the project was Allied Engineering Company, based in Atlantic. The Board approved their bid of $7.645-million for a project that was budgeted at $6.9-million. Purdy said the highest bid of $8.47-million, came from an Omaha company.

According to Purdy, there five bids were selected from those received, all of which were tightly grouped together for the most part. He says the project came in over budget because of what’s termed “Project creep,” whereby items that were added to it during the design phase for one reason or another, some because of code, others for function or aesthetics, were not adjusted in the final budget.

One of those items was the parking lot, which made-up about five-percent of the nearly 8.3-percent increase in costs. He says the addition of storm piping and other issues meant more than just an overlay, as was planned.

The board had the option to accept the bids as presented, or reject them and make changes, which would also mean a delay in the project completion date of up to a year, and mean it would take up to three-years to finish, instead of two. The board was essentially left with three options if it chose to reject the bids: go for more bonds, which would result in additional cost for bonding fees, etc.; to use the $200,000 set aside surplus and use an additional $300,000 resulting from the sale of bonds at a favorable rate; or, borrow at the end of the project, which also means incurring additional debt in the form of interest.

While the board was not happy with the fact the project went over budget,  they agreed with Superintendent Doctor Mike Amstein who said prior to the vote, their options are limited, and timing is critical if the students are to  receive a quality education with as minimal interruptions as possible.

Board member Glen Smith said he was in favor of the bid because the district would be using a local contractor, who can handle issues and questions quickly, and because there’s a higher “Degree of trust,” than with a firm that is farther away. Board Member Jon Martens reluctantly made to motion  to approve the bid, and following a second by Smith, the motion passed unanimously.