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Founders' Hall renovation bids awarded with many stipulations

| Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 1:26 a.m.

McKeesport Area school board awarded bids for the Founders' Hall addition/renovation project with several stipulations at Monday's special meeting.

Directors unanimously approved the action. Board vice president Joe Lopretto and Director Terri Kisan participated by phone. Directors Mark Holtzman and Stephen Kondrosky were absent.

Bids were awarded to Gurtner Construction for general construction at $8,685,000, A-1 Electric for electrical construction at $1,294,000, R&B Mechanical for mechanical construction at $3,510,000, and Wheels Mechanical for plumbing construction at $885,500. The awards are subject to appropriate PlanCon approvals, the issuance of all applicable permits, compliance with Act 34 requirements and review by district solicitor Gary Matta. PlanCon is an acronym for Planning and Construction Workbook, a set of forms and procedures used to apply for state reimbursement.

Act 34 requires that a public hearing be held on all new construction and substantial additions for second-, third- and fourth-class school districts. It applies only to costs for new construction, and the hearings are designed to inform the public of the proposed project.

During a Department of Education-required Act 34 hearing in February, district business manager David Seropian presented financing options, with a maximum building cost of $7,656,756 and a maximum project cost of $13,271,350.

The total cost in awarded work is $14,374,500, $1,103,150 more than the projected maximum cost. The bid awards include $389,000 in deductions from base bids, which would have taken the project $1,492,150 over budget.

“We will make sure that we comply with all the Act 34 requirements,” Matta said.

“There is a window where you can still be above what you originally projected, and still comply with Act 34,” Matta said. “So that's where we are at right now. We're just making sure that we're running all the numbers with PlanCon to make sure that everything fits in the right category. Nothing's going to be signed. We can still not move forward with any of those actions if it does not comply.”

“If the numbers end up beyond the Act 34 limitations,” Superintendent Timothy Gabauer said, “we either have to have an additional Act 34 (hearing) to discuss publicly that there's been a change in the overall cost, or we need to scale the scope down to make sure it fits within those parameters. Those are discussions and decisions that the board is going to have to make in relation to that coming up soon.”

Project architect is Ryan Pierce of JC Pierce LLC.

The Founder's Hall addition has been called the Sixth Grade Academy, and recently has been referred to as Founders' Hall Annex. It's projected to be completed by October or November of 2014.

It is to be constructed on a portion of the grass and portion of the Founders' Hall Middle School parking area along Eden Park Boulevard, and have 14 classrooms, one life skills room, a large faculty space, a large group instruction room, a dedicated science classroom, two small group instruction rooms and restrooms. A basement level will have a semi-finished wrestling practice room and locker rooms.

Renovations on the existing middle school include air conditioning, corridor wall protection and construction of new locker rooms in the main gymnasium.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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