Board awards bids for school

Bids for a new East Coven­try El­e­men­tary School at a cost of more than $25 mil­lion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Nancy March For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

SOUTH COVEN­TRY >> Nearly two years af­ter be­gin­ning the process, the Owen J. Roberts School Board awarded bids for a new East Coven­try El­e­men­tary School at a cost of more than $25 mil­lion.

“This will be the most ex­pen­sive school this dis­trict has ever built,” said board Vice Pres­i­dent Melissa Booth, who chairs the dis­trict Build­ing and Grounds Com­mit­tee.

Booth said the dis­trict hopes to break ground in a few weeks.

Ap­proved unan­i­mously were bids to SMJ Con­tract­ing, of Dou­glassville, for gen­eral con­struc­tion, $16,582,689; Match­line Me­chan­i­cal, of Ephrata, for heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing, $4,986,000; JBM Me­chan­i­cal, of Nazareth, for plumb­ing con­struc­tion, $1,277,900; and Pagoda Elec­tri­cal of Read­ing, for elec­tri­cal con­struc­tion, $2,435,200.

The bid­ding process was com­pleted this sum­mer with low bids for the four con­tract pro­pos­als com­ing in $1.9 mil­lion over the project’s bud­get.

Booth said dis­trict of­fi­cials are “work­ing hard to trim down” non-es­sen­tial parts of the project and bring it within bud­get.

Ear­lier this year, the school board had hoped to go out to bid on the project in early spring, start con­struc­tion this sum­mer and fin­ish the project in De­cem­ber 2017. How­ever, a failed per­co­la­tion test and East Coven­try Town­ship’s land devel­op­ment re­quire­ments slowed the process.

In con­trast, con­struc­tion of the dis­trict’s other new el­e­men­tary build­ing, East Vin­cent El­e­men­tary School, is well un­der­way and re­mains on sched­ule. The board had planned to con­struct both build­ings si­mul­ta­ne­ously, with East Vin­cent slightly ahead of East Coven­try.

The board ap­proved a pro­posal in Novem­ber 2014 to build the two schools, re­plac­ing the only dis­trict el­e­men­tary build­ings that do not have air con­di­tion­ing and serve large stu­dent pop­u­la­tions.

Booth com­mented Mon­day on the “hard work” of dis­trict of­fi­cials to get to this point. The East Coven­try process was “cir­cuitous,” in con­trast to the East Vin­cent project that has gone smoothly from the be­gin­ning.

In East Coven­try, a failed per­co­la­tion test re­quired a re­vamped stormwa­ter man­age­ment plan and ap­provals from the Ch­ester County Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict.

Land devel­op­ment is­sues with the town­ship were re­solved with the dis­trict agree­ing to in­stall a six­foot wide as­phalt walk­way along the sec­tions of school prop­erty that front East Cedarville and Old Schuylkill roads. That walk­way was ap­proved by the town­ship in lieu of side­walks.

The dis­trict had orig­i­nally ob­jected to a town­ship re­quire­ment to con­struct trails from the school prop­erty to two nearby de­vel­op­ments. Agree­ment was reached that al­lows the dis­trict to post­pone con­struc­tion of one gravel trail lead­ing to the Coven­try Glen devel­op­ment un­til the school’s ath­letic fields are built. A sec­ond trail, lead­ing to the Pheas­ant Lane cul-de-sac will be built con­cur­rently with the school.

In ad­di­tion, the town­ship waived a num­ber of land­scap­ing re­quire­ments in or­der to im­prove vis­i­bil­ity on the prop­erty, for school safety rea­sons. And town­ship su­per­vi­sors agreed to sev­eral waivers re­gard­ing road widen­ing along the prop­erty.

Those de­lays raised con­cerns that a sum­mer bid­ding process would not be pro­duc­tive, but Booth said the dis­trict re­ceived seven or eight com­pet­i­tive bids. “We got close to our bud­get, and we felt it was not worth fur­ther de­lay on the project to draw out the process any fur­ther,” she added.

Booth said the new school will likely be ready for stu­dents in the spring of 2018. East Vin­cent El­e­men­tary stu­dents are ex­pected to move into their new build­ing over the hol­i­day break of this school year.

Cor­re­spon­dent Laura Cata­lano contributed to this re­port.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

A sign at the field be­hind the East Coven­try El­e­men­tary School shows the pre­lim­i­nary land devel­op­ment plan for a new el­e­men­tary school.

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