Ground To Be Broken For New County Schools

After "phenomenal" bids, Taylor Co. ready to break ground for new high school; lower projection to build school's gymnasium may mean that project can proceed as well

By Leslie Moore

Central Kentucky News-Journal, Campbellsville,

Just a month after opening bids for construction of a new high school, Taylor County School District is planning to break ground for the facility within 10 days.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, the Board unanimously approved a $1,140,500 contract with Pyles Excavating of Columbia to clear and rough grade the site for the facility located on the district’s KY 210 property.

Superintendent Roger Cook said permission was sought from the Kentucky Department of Education, which must approve all bids before a district can accept them, to separate this bid package from the others.

Cook said excavation work is dependent on weather, and he doesn’t want to risk the project being delayed by the upcoming winter. The District will open construction bids for the primary center on Oct. 28 and send in all bids for both facilities to KDE for approval.

“We’ll have a combined elementary cost and high school cost and I’ll be able to say to KDE, ‘This is the total cost of everything we need,'” Cook said.

Construction manager Kenny Davis of Codell Construction said there was a lot of competition for the bid and Pyles Construction is eager to get started on clearing the site.

“The bids for all 20-some packages came in phenomenal,” Davis said. “It was actually below budget and real unheard of. I’ve bid a lot of K through 12 projects and this is the best that I’ve ever seen numbers come in.”

Architect Kenny Stanfield of Sherman, Carter, Barnhart said he is also pleased with the bids.

“I don’t know of a high school project anywhere that come in at $175 a square foot for many, many years,” Stanfield said.

To put this into perspective, he said, bids for another Kentucky high school came in at roughly $240 per square foot.

Stanfield said competitive bids for the primary center are also expected because bidding was staggered so that companies who were unsuccessful on bidding for the high school can direct their attention to the primary center.

Davis said there have been issues with some of the high school’s other bid packages.

No bids were submitted for the estimated $125,000 tile package. He said he doesn’t know why no bids were submitted, however, there are five individuals lined up to bid on Oct. 30.

Davis said his biggest concern has been the roofing package that had about 10 bidders. He said the first bidder, who he has worked with in the past, was significantly lower than the others and wasn’t comfortable with his bid.

“But I put pressure on him hoping he would keep his bid and then come to find out when we reviewed his bid, he didn’t sign his bid bond,” Davis said. “So really, his bid’s not valid.”

After consulting with his bonding agent, Davis said it has been determined that it is in the best interest of the project to let that that individual walk away and move on to the second bid, which would cost about $100,000 more.

Because the third bid was an additional $400,000, Davis said he recommends the Board accept the second bid.

Stanfield said he believes the majority of bids are coming in under budget because of some modifications made to design plans for the high school. He said minor changes, such as designing the roof pitches to be less steep, subtracted unnecessary volume.

“It doesn’t lack for anything, but we made it more compact where we could,” Stanfield said. “It’s going to be a great building.”

One noticeably low bid package was for the gymnasium that was estimated to cost $8 million to build. Cook said last month that the District can’t afford to build a gymnasium at this time. However, the bid came in at $5.9 million.

“With the savings we’ve got by redesigning and reshuffling things, we’re probably within $3 million of getting a gymnasium,” Cook said.

Cook said he has discussed the possibility of using the District’s capital outlay funds to cover the cost of the gym with fiscal agent Joe Nance of Ross, Sinclair & Associates. Cook said KDE doesn’t like district’s to use their capital outlay funds unless there is an emergency, such as a roof or boiler that must be replaced.

If the District commits all of its capital outlay to a 20-year bond, it won’t have much funding for repairs. However, Cook said the District is innovative in cost-effective repairs, such as replacing boilers and overhauling buses.

He said the fact that the District has $4.2 million in its general fund might help secure KDE’s approval.

“I think if we can get KDE to agree to do 100 percent of capital outlay, we can get that gym,” Cook said.

But for now, Cook said he is looking forward to watching the construction of the high school begin.

“I’m very, very happy. We’ve been waiting six long years to get this thing going.”

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