Rescinded “Responsible Contractors” Policy Leads to More and Lower Bids for Colonial Middle School Construction

Yesterday during a meeting of the Colonial School Board’s Facilities and Transportation Committees, four bids for the construction of a new Colonial Middle School were compared and reviewed.

These bids were submitted after the Colonial School Board voted 8-1 in August to rescind the “Responsible Contractors” policy it had adopted earlier in the year by a vote of 5-4 and reject two bids submitted under that policy

If you aren’t familiar, a “Responsible Contractors” policy creates a set of standards contractors must meet to be able to bid on a job. Proponents of this type of policy believe it creates safer working conditions and the work is completed by the most skilled labor. Opponents believe a mechanism within the policy requiring a very specific type of apprentice program limits bidding to union shops and that limits the bidding process and raises costs.

During the committee meeting on Tuesday, School Board members were provided spreadsheets that compared all of the current bids against each other and those submitted under the “Responsible Contractors” policy. You can view these spreadsheets here and here.

As you will see, the low base bid under the “Responsible Contractors” policy was $49,545,000 by Ernest Block & Sons. The new low bid without the policy is $45,875,000 by Penn Builders. The budget is $45,653.50. The difference between the two low base bids is $3,670,000‬.

While it wasn’t the low bidder in either round of bidding, the bids submitted by Boro Construction are very curious. With the policy in place, its bid was just over $51 million. Without the policy in place, the bid was just over $46 million.

If you viewed the spreadsheets linked above, you probably have a lot of questions about all the other numbers. Not every single detail involving the construction of the school has been settled. For example, last night there was a discussion on the type of flooring. One type is cheaper and lasts 20 years, while the other option is more expensive, but lasts 60 years. There was a discussion on whether to seed or sod a field. Seeding is cheaper but takes a year for the field to be ready for play. Sodding is more expensive but allows for play much sooner.

There is a special meeting of the Colonial School Board scheduled for Thursday. October 3rd at 7:00 p.m. to formally vote to accept the bid from Penn Builders.

Please note that the “Responsible Contractors” policy was rescinded temporarily and only in connection with the bidding for the general contractor.

We will have more on this. Stay tuned.