Columbia School District sorting through dozens of bids for new high school construction

Friday, June 25, 2010 | 4:56 p.m. CDT
Columbia Public Schools' Superintendent Chris Belcher listens in as contractors' bids for construction work on the new high school are opened. The school is estimated to cost $75 million when completed. The district received dozens of bids for the project, which will be compiled and presented at the Columbia School Board meeting on July 15.

COLUMBIA — Dozens of work trucks were lined up along Paris Road on Thursday afternoon as contractors assembled in the old Hood's Warehouse Outlet building to bid on construction rights for the proposed new high school for Columbia.

The new school is estimated to cost $75 million when completed.

Michelle Baumstark, community relations coordinator for the Columbia School District, said it is hard to pin down the exact number of contractors who submitted a bid for the project at this stage but that there were 40 "bid packages" with an average of 5 respondents submitting bids for each package.

The district is still in the process of compiling all the information. The district is using a "construction manager" model for the project, as opposed to the "general contractor" model that the city has used in the past.

Under the construction manager model, contractors submit bids for specific parts of the project such as electrical systems, plumbing, technology and excavation. Baumstark said this model allows the district "more say so" in choosing local and regional contractors and it allows the district to be more involved in the process from start to finish.

Contractor JE Dunn of Kansas City has been chosen as the construction manager for the project, and they will be responsible for managing the workflow and much of the paperwork for the project.

"I think it's indicative of the current economic climate that so many contractors are bidding for this project," Baumstark said.

Now that bids have been submitted, the district is working to compile the information and organize it to choose the most economical options. The bids will be presented to the Columbia School Board at the July 15 meeting.

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