The Sylvania Board of Education's decision to rebid contracts for renovating one of its grade schools in order to require contractors to pay union-scale wages has increased the project's cost by more than $130,000.
Whether any or all of the increase is attributable to labor costs was unclear after the board awarded four contracts for the project, because the re-bid delayed the project's start by more than a month without a change in its completion schedule.
“You do have a shorter timeframe now. It took us a while to rebid this,” said John Crandall, a school board member who, when the board decided in November to rebid the Sylvan Elementary project, had particular interest in how requiring bidders to comply with “prevailing-wage” standards might affect its cost.
But whether it was because of costlier labor or a tighter schedule, the four awarded contracts added up to $2,905,998, whereas the combined low bids that the board considered, but rejected, in late November for the same project had a $2,773,677 sum.
And the increase was driven by higher bids for electrical and plumbing-mechanical work, which a district consultant said would be the parts of the project most likely to be affected by the change.
The $668,788 winning bid from Regent Electric Inc. of Toledo was more than $100,000 higher than the apparent low bid from November, while Dimech Services Inc. of Toledo received a $956,000 plumbing and mechanical contract for more than $70,000 over the combined price of separate plumbing and mechanical low-bids opened previously.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Joe Swint, project manager for the Bostleman Corp.
By contrast, Midwest Contracting Inc. of Springfield Township lowered its bid for the project's general-trades construction from $1,310,700 in November to $1,263,900 this time around. It was the low bidder both times and received the contract.
The project includes a classroom addition to the Sylvan building, 4830 Wickford Drive, that will both expand capacity and permit removal of a portable building there, construction of a new gymnasium, and replacement of the building's climate-control system.
The only bid that didn't change between the two rounds was for fire suppression, a $17,310 contract awarded to Radco Fire Protection Inc. of Toledo.
Mr. Crandall said that while the rebidding increased the Sylvan project's cost, it was too soon to say whether future construction projects should include the prevailing-wage provision. Ohio law requiring union wage scales on other public projects exempts school projects, but districts are allowed to include the provision as they see fit, and the Sylvania school board's policy is permissive.
“You've got to look at the overall result. I'm not going to judge based on just one project,” Mr. Crandall said.\
And despite the overall cost increase, the Sylvan bids remained well below the Bostleman firm's $3.37 million combined estimate for the project's cost.
The Sylvan renovations and expansion are part of a districtwide school renovation and replacement campaign funded by a bond issue and levy that Sylvania City Schools taxpayers approved in November, 2008.
Bids for two more of the projects were opened last week. For renovation of Stranahan Elementary School, the package of five low bidders totalling $4,303,213 was nearly $130,000 below Bostleman's estimate.
“It looks like those bids came in pretty good,” Superintendent Brad Rieger said.
A specialmeeting has been scheduled for Jan. 19 for the school board to consider awarding those contracts.
At the same Nov. 30 meeting during which it voted to rebid the Sylvan contracts, the board also voted to require prevailing-wage compliance by the Stranahan and Maplewood contractors. It voted Jan. 5 to extend that requirement to renovation projects at Northview High School and McCord Junior High School now going out to bid.
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