Over-budget bids surprise Abilene ISD School Board members, negotiations now underway

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Construction bids for a new CTE center raised eyebrows at a special meeting of the Abilene Independent School Board Wednesday, where members questioned why the proposals were millions of dollars over budget.

The board unanimously accepted the rankings of three companies’ bids, listed as follows:

  • Imperial Construction, $43,200,000
  • Sedalco, $43,509,000
  • Lee Lewis Construction, $44,387,000

The only problem with these bids is that the cheapest is still about $7 million more than the about $30 million set aside after the 2018 bond election plus the additional $5 million to be draw from a “fun balance” if needed.

“We’ve been looking at a $36 million project when really I should have been telling people that we’re looking at a $41 million project,” said school board member Sammy Garcia.

Questions posed by members like “what’s driving the costs of construction up?” could not be answered in full as leaders like Associate Superintendent of Operations Scott McLean could not discuss particulars with contractors until the bid rankings were approved.

However, McLean and his team are already pushing the project forward, making calls to the first construction business minutes after the school board entered its closed session.

“We’re making those calls tonight, they’re calling on their way home,” said McLean.

AISD Superintendent Dr. David Young says outside factors like labor shortages are partly to blame for the inflated bids, but that he and other leaders will fight for a price that’s reasonable – keeping up the district’s responsibility to its taxpayers.

If negotiations with either of the three construction companies don’t pan out with an in-budget price, it could be back to the drawing board for the Career and Technical Education facility or “The Lift”; however, Dr. David Young is skeptical matters will become that drastic.

“I don’t think we’ll end up in that scenario, I want to be very clear about that. I believe we’ll get to where we need to be,” said Dr. Young.

The school board will accept one of the bids at its meeting next month.

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