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Construction Projects Delayed at MRH Schools

Bids for projects at the Maplewood Richmond Heights Early Childhood Center and the high school will be repackaged in an effort to attract more contractors, though the delay isn't expected to cost additional money.

The schedule for bidding proposed projects at the and has been pushed back.

Representatives of construction company S.M. Wilson updated the MRH Board of Education on the status of bids for renovation work at the early childhood center at its meeting Thursday night. Funding for the project will come from Proposition Y, a $9 million bond issue that voters approved in April.

The company put the initial package for the project, which included approximately 75 percent of the proposed work at the center, out for bids last month. The company had intended to present the board with bids this week on Monday, but project manager Dave Schlueter said the company didn’t get the number of bids it had hoped for.

The bid package had been divided into 12 smaller packages in an effort to attract a larger number of contractors. But seven of the 12 bid packages only attracted two bidders each, said Drew Raasch, director of preconstruction services for S.M. Wilson. The packages attracted mainly larger contractors, Schlueter said. 

“What we found out was that some of the smaller companies decided not to bid because the packages were too small, and they didn’t want to have to bid bond them,” Schleuter said.

While S.M. Wilson was scheduled to put out additional bid packages for the remaining renovation work, as well as courtyard and parking lot projects at the high school this month, Schleueter said the company has determined that it will benefit the projects to complete the design work at the high school and repackage all of the projects into larger work packages to make them attractive to more bidders.

By putting the work out to bid as larger packages, Raasch said, the smaller contractors will be able to bid to a larger general contractor or group contractor, allowing them to utilize the larger organization’s bonding capacity.

“When you have only two contractors coming in to bid, you don’t have the competitive edge,” Raasch said. “By repackaging the bids into larger groups, we’re going to get more competitive bids and get the opportunity to save the district some money by adding the high school and parking lot work. You’ll get an economy of scale.”

Raasch said the bids received on some packages were over budget, and he said the scope of work of those packages will be studied to determine how future bids can be brought back in line.

The new schedule also will minimize the effect to the early childhood center, Schleuter said. That's because the actual construction will only take place during the first semester of the next school year and will not happen during part of the current semester, as had been planned.

New bid packages will be issued in April, with construction starting at the end of the school year, Schlueter said. Raasch said there would be no additional cost resulting from the delay because no contractors have been hired. 

School board Vice President Lamar Agard said he’d like to see regular written updates from S.M. Wilson on the bidding process as it progresses, including the revised timeline for construction. Raasch said he would provide the board with a written summary of the recommendations for the revised bid packages. The summary will include information about how the changes might affect the projects.

Given the lack of bids, the revised bid process made sense, school board President Maria Langston said.

“It’s too big to rush,” board member Brooke Rintoul said. “We want it done right and for the right price.”

In other action, the board:

  • Recognized the for its undefeated regular season and its performance at the state championships.
  • Observed a presentation in which Barry Greenberg, president of the Maplewood Kiwanis Club, presented a check to the district for $1,000 to support MRH Elementary School’s Arts Festival, which will be held at the school April 29. The Kiwanis raised the funds at a .

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