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QV Continues to Evaluate Middle School Project

School board plans to discuss project revisions in the coming weeks in effort to reduce overall project costs.

Quaker Valley officials continue to work with architects to re-evaluate middle school renovation plans and costs.

School board members earlier this month rejected all bids for the middle school saying the bids came in higher than expected.

David Pusateri, facilities committee chairman, said Tuesday night that the lowest bid was more than 30 percent higher than what district officials had budgeted for the $25 million project.

“No decisions have been made at this point other than to reject the bids,” Pusateri said.

The district has been working with New Castle-based Eckles Architecture on plans to improve and expand the  building in Sewickley. Pusateri and other school officials say the school building is outdated and in need of updates that can last at least 25 years for the next generation.

Board President Jack Norris explained that in the past 45 days, steel prices have increased 15 percent, primarily due to gasoline prices.

Pusateri said greater demand for construction supplies also could be driving up costs.

Board members pointed to Mt. Lebanon’s decision earlier this week to take similar action and reject all bids for its controversial high school renovation project because the bids were over budget.

In the coming weeks, Pusateri said, there will be a great deal of discussion on revisions to the specifications to reduce the overall project costs.

Leland Floyd, of Sewickley, asked if the board was going to rush ahead with the renovation project or if it would take a step back to evaluate the design professionals and their performance.

“This is a significant mistake,” said Floyd, who is running for a seat on the school board.

Pusateri said everyone involved in the project, from board members and administrators to construction engineers, managers and architects,  spent about four hours Tuesday morning reviewing the bid specifications line by line.

“It’s been a perfect storm of sorts, of increases and costs, fuel costs and steel costs.” Pusateri said. “I don’t agree with your characterization that we’re going to rush forward.”

“We’ve been very deliberate,” Norris told Floyd.

Norris said the same design professionals responsible for construction at the district's Edgeworth and Osborne elementary schools were  working on the middle school project and that all sides were  trying to deal with the specifications and .

Pusateri said everything from the heating and air conditioning systems to the roof and ceramic tile, the floors and the gymnasium and the field turf was being scrutinized.

“We’re evaluating everything ...,” Pusateri said. “Different decisions are going to have to be made. This is a building in deep need of an upgrade.”

In other business, the board:

  • Recognized seniors Mica Rollock and Erica Haybron, student board representatives, for their work the past year. Superintendent Joseph Clapper, on behalf of the district, presented awards to the students.

  • Approved a freeze in the substitute pay for the 2011-12 school year.

  • Appointed Matthew Littell as high school biology/physics teacher, effective Aug. 17.

  • Eliminated the early-retirement incentive program for nonprofessional employees. Board members said the provision no longer affects employees, which is why it's being eliminated.

  • Approved the Allegheny Intermediate Unit's program-of-services budget. The district's estimated portion of this budget is $54,442.

  • Reviewed a presentation about a recent audit of the district's special education program. The presentation included a video produced by district spokeswoman Martha Smith.

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