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School board accepts bid for STEAM lab

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Contractors’ bids were more than budgeted for the new learning lab planned for CCHS.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Though bids for the new sciences lab at Carroll High came in high, Carroll officials still hope to pay for it through money already available for school improvements.
Soon after the addition of several new classrooms to house the ninth grade at the high school, county officials and educators embarked on a project to replace the four-decades-old heating and air conditioning system and supplying natural gas to the facility to fuel the boilers there.
At the same time, officials began pursuing a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math lab in the agriculture classroom.
(In fact, many county officials now refer to the project as the “STEAM lab,” with A standing for the added agriculture component.)
It’s through the contingency for a federal Rural Development community facilities loan for these projects that county officials hope to get the funding, according to a discussion at a special Industrial Development Authority meeting Dec. 11.
Dennis Cole, construction clerk of the works, went over the results of the bids for the STEAM lab, noting that the submissions were higher than the initial estimate.
Of the two bidders, the low bid came from Clark Brothers, at $359,000 to create the 1,400 square feet of new space on the mezzanine level in the ag classrooms and have offices and storage underneath, Cole said. The build out would take 180 days.
Clark Brothers also supplied an additive bid of $7,900 to clean up and paint the floor where they would have to cut and put new support columns in.
County officials recommended that the IDA members accept the base and the additive bid from Clark.
“The project right now is over budget,” Cole said. “We had originally intended about $210,500 in the budget.”
The price was evidently high because a contractor will have to dedicate a superintendent to the job and pay all the setup costs for a relatively small project, the clerk of the works explained.
County officials believe there’s enough money in the amount of contingency funds kept on hand to pay for this work, Cole said. Rural Development requires those parties that receive its funding to keep a 10 percent contingency for projects.
County Administrator Gary Larrowe presented for the board’s consideration a revised budget for the continuing work at the high school.
The budget shows the $367,400 for the STEAM lab, in addition to a possible $300,000 for the replacement of an existing membrane roof at the high school.
That would increase the construction costs to $5.4 million and the total cost of the high school renovations to $5.93 million, including legal architect and equipment fees.
County officials developed an estimate for the roof replacement, Larrowe said. They have also asked Rural Development for permission to use the loan funds for the roof replacement, but have not gotten a response.
IDA member Roger Wilson made a motion to revise the construction budget, subject to approval of Rural Development. All members voted yes.
IDA member Larry Chambers then made a motion to accept the low construction bid from Clark Brothers, which was also unanimously approved.