Board awards bids for school
Bids for a new East Coventry Elementary School at a cost of more than $25 million
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.
A sign at the field behind the East Coventry Elementary School shows the preliminary land development plan for a new elementary school.