Bids for Millsboro school $2.4 million over budget

The Indian River School Board accepted the final two bids for the planned Millsboro Middle School renovation Tuesday, approving a project that exceeded most recent budget projections by $2.4 million.

After once rejecting the bids, the board accepted a $1.7 million bid for electrical work in the middle school and a $2.7 million bid for carpentry and masonry, bringing the total amount for the project to $10.3 million. After originally projecting in 2000 that the renovation project would cost $6.4 million, district staff recently projected a revised number of $7.3 million. The actual cost of the project will likely delay other pending district renovations.

“Unfortunately, it’s market conditions,” Ted Dwyer, with the construction management firm EDIS, told the board at its Tuesday board meeting. “I don’t know what to say.”

Dwyer did tell the board that they “don’t have much of a choice,” saying that rejecting the bids would delay the project and costs might be even higher with future bids. Most board members agreed and approved the pair of bids despite the severe budget miscalculations.

Construction on the Millsboro Middle School project will begin immediately. Other district projects might not be so fortunate.

District Finance Director Patrick Miller said that the Southern Delaware School of the Arts, the Indian River Educational Complex and Frankford Elementary renovation projects will likely be stalled because reserves to be used for those projects will have to be used to cover the Millsboro budget shortfall.

Miller said, however, that SDSA and IREC renovation costs are currently under-budget, which could allow them to start work on time in the coming year — but Frankford Elementary projections are over-budget.

In 1996, district residents approved a current-expense referendum to pay 44 extra cents per $100 of assessed value for various district needs such as salaries and textbooks. That money is now earmarked annually for the district’s renovation projects, Miller said. In the 2007 fiscal year, though, most of those monies will have to be used for the Millsboro renovation project.

The 5 cents per $100 of assessed value this year translates into about $113,000 for the district. Miller said he had only planned to use 22 to 24 cents of that money for the Millsboro project, but now as much as 39 cents might be used because of the shortfall, delaying future renovations.

The Millsboro project should be finished and ready for the 2007-2008 school year. For the school year starting in September, the school’s students will travel to the recently renovated — but still yet to be completed — Georgetown Middle School.