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Hilltown Archives The Altamont Enterprise, August 4, 2011
BKW’s uses under-budget bids as a cushion for new work
By Zach Simeone
BERNE The Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District has discovered an additional $230,138 of work to be done in its ongoing $12.7 million building project. But, since project bids came in at $1.4 million under budget last summer, the district has more than enough financial wiggle room to cover the costs, and the school board approved a number of change orders for the project this week relating to the additional work.
“These are things that pretty much have to happen, but were not part of the original work,” Superintendent Paul Dorward said this week. “Change orders come into play when there’s work happening that’s beyond the original bid.”
Giving an example on Tuesday, he said, “There’s some asbestos abatement that needs to be done in the gymnasium floor.” Asbestos, once widely used for insulation, must be removed because studies have shown that inhaling its fiber can cause serious illness, including lung cancer.
“This was asbestos they found in that area that was not originally believed to be there, so it would not have been covered in the original bid, unlike other areas in the building, where they knew there was asbestos,” Dorward said.
District voters originally approved the project on Dec. 18, 2007. This included adding a new cafeteria, kitchen, technology lab, and computer classroom. There were to be two new locker rooms, and the gym would be extended to make up for space lost in other parts of the reconstruction.
The reconstruction was needed because the campus does not comply with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. But, given the current economic climate, some taxpayers had come to meetings and demanded that the board find cheaper ways to make the buildings accessible to those with handicaps.
Some residents protesting tax hikes last spring had advocated scaling back or scrapping the project, though state aid is set to pay for about 80 percent of the overhaul, leaving taxpayers to cover about $1 million of the total cost.
Having looked at a handful of alternatives, the school board voted in May to proceed with its original $12.7-million building project, as approved by district residents in a 2007 special election. Board members agreed that the district should stick to the plan that was voted on back in 2007.
Several of the change orders approved Monday were related to general construction, and added up to an increase of $192,934, bringing the total allowance for general construction, to be performed by Bette and Cring, to $6,053,934:
To remove the newly discovered asbestos in the secondary school gymnasium floor, the allowance for general construction was increased by $57,750;
For additional rock excavation and removal, and structural fill, the total was increased by $130,074; and
To remove contaminated soil, $5,100 will be spent.
The following change orders were also approved:
The cost of plumbing work to be done by Burniche Piping went up by $6,805, to $485,705; and
The cost of electrical work to be done by J. McBain Inc. went up by $30,399, to $1,232,551.
August Freemann, clerk of the works for the building project, said this week that the reconstruction is projected to be completed by September 2012.