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Bids to be awarded for new Thomas Jefferson High School project

| Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, 7:21 p.m.
Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Va.
Steven Adams | Tribune-Review
Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Va.

West Jefferson Hills School District leaders will spend the next two weeks reviewing numbers before board members likely will award bids for construction of a new Thomas Jefferson High School.

District leaders opened bids Tuesday from four general contractors, five plumbing contractors, two fire suppression companies, five heating and ventilation systems contractors, four electrical contractors and four food service equipment contractors for the new high school, set to open in the summer of 2018.

“At first blush, I'm very pleased that the base numbers are below budget. But we still don't know what's going to happen until we look at bidder qualifications and alternates,” said Superintendent Michael Panza said.

“Today was the next step in the next 50-year history of this school district. We're planning. Today, was just another step in this whole process.”

Base bids for the four general contractors ranged in price from almost $42 million to $45 million. District leaders have estimated the total project, including phase one, or site stabilization, and the construction could total $100 million.

The school, designed after Thomas Jefferson's Monticello with a red brick façade and white pillar entrance, will be built to house 1,000 students and include an eight-lane swimming pool, and athletic and arts wings.

Thomas Jefferson High School Community Construction committee chairperson Deborah Pozycki said she is happy with the results of Tuesday's bids.

“I think we did pretty well,” she said. “I think we'll be able to select the alternates that we want and need with this.”

Alternate options included varied lighting and flooring, security cameras and other amenities.

The first step, Panza said, is to sort through all of the bids and ensure the proper process was met.

“We have to go through and really look at all of this information. It's going to be important that we confirm that each of the bidders followed all of the bidding qualifications, submitted all of their bid documents, bid bonds and everything that was required,” he said. “All we did today was read numbers.”

The project is designed so the district will qualify for PlanCon reimbursements from the state for the construction project, Panza said. This is the only PlanCon-qualified project the state Department of Education has seen this year, the superintendent said.

“We've taken every step so we can qualify for PlanCon,” Panza said. “We've taken every step so that at the time the Legislature would fund it, we're in line for reimbursement.”

With the numbers now in hand, the Community Construction Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Thomas Jefferson High School choir room to make recommendations about which alternates should be selected.

Phase one, or site stabilization on the 161-acre property where the new school is set to be built off Old Clairton Road is on schedule, with dynamic compaction set to be complete by the end of February, Panza said.

Board members will get the bid numbers next Tuesday, but will likely not vote on bids until Jan. 29 at the earliest, Panza said.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com

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