Bids for new high school wings come in way over budget

The St. Charles Parish School Board has decided to table bids on wing additions to both high schools after the bids came in over expectations.

“The comparison is that at Harry Hurst and J.B. Martin came in at $125 per square foot. This one came in at $200 per square foot,” Superintendant Dr. Rodney Lafon said.

John Rome, executive director of physical plant services, said the district will likely work with the lowest bidders to see if they can reduce the construction price.

“We are working very hard right now about that to see what can be done in value engineering,” Rome said.

Lafon pushed the idea of holding off on accepting bids to see if the school system could reduce the prices.

“Let’s let them negotiate with the contractor,” Lafon said.

The low bid for Destrehan came in at $10,336,000 and was put in by Houston-based Satterfield & Pontikes.

The low bid for Hahnville was from Luling-based Lamar Contractors and came in at $7,378,960.

John Smith, district 5 school board member, said the construction market has changed recently due to natural disasters.

“There are two things we have to take into account. We had a hurricane here which has affected the construction market,” Smith said. “Secondly we just had a second hurricane in the northeast so there is lots of work going on.”

The bids for the projects came in after Hurricane Isaac, but before Hurricane Sandy struck.

Board vice-president Clarence “Sonny” Savoie said he would be afraid to solicit new bids because the additional construction work that will be necessitated by Hurricane Sandy in the northeastern portion of the country would likely lead to even higher estimates from national construction companies.

For now the board intends to try price reduction strategies, such as using less costly materials to get the project costs down.

“We did speak to a legal representative about this. We’ve done this before,” Rome said. “You don’t want to change the intent or the scope of the project. If we build a two-story building that has X,Y and Z in it we still have to that, but potential items in there such as air conditioning and mechanical we can rework that.”


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