Houlka approves gym renovation

1STOCK UPDATE Education School BusesHOULKA – A renovated Wildcat Gymnasium took a big first step Monday night with trustees accepting a $279,400 bid from Tri-Star Mechanical Contractors of Batesville.

While trustees must still approve a contract, the board’s action paved the way to renovate the lobby, concession stand, add new restrooms and paint and insulate the ceiling at the gym.

Tri-Stars bid was the lowest of five bids and $60,000 lower than the next bid. The highest bid for the work was $329,247.

“The gap between bids concerns me,” said Trustee Kenneth Linton. “To have bids higher and then one much lower makes me think they left something out or figured something wrong.”

Linton also pointed to work the district did several years ago with the contractor submitting a very low bid, ultimately going bankrupt and the board finally getting the work finished and paid for three years later.

Project architect, Rud Robinson, of Pryor & Morrow, said he had looked over the bids and pointed out the contractor said they are ready to start work on the project once a contract is signed. Bid were opened at 2 p.m. Monday and presented to the board at 7 p.m.

“The contractor was at the bid opening and has not expressed a concern with the bid,” said Robison. “They are a Mississippi company, they have submitted the correct certificates of responsibility, a 5-percent bid bond and they are the apparent low bidder. That is why I am recommending you accept their bid.”

Robinson did say he would take the Tri-State bid back to his office and “do my homework to make sure they meet specifications.”

Board attorney Jimmy Hood repeatedly questioned Robinson on the bid opening and assurances the process was followed and the district’s exposure to risk was minimal.

Five additional add-on projects were not approved by the board. Robinson said the board had 30 days from the signing of the contract to agree to the upgrades to the project.

The upgrades ranged from $1,758 to install a roll up door/window on the concession stand to the installation of double doors on the north end of the gym, complete with awning and concrete pad outside.

The board is expected to meet June 27 to approve a contract with Tri-State that has been cleared by Pryor & Morrow as far as scope of work and materials to be used.

In other business:

• The board accepted a letter of resignation of Houlka High School Principal Michael Gillespie effective June 30. Gillespie, an 18-veteran of the Chickasaw County School District has accepted a job at Principal of Bruce High School.

Superintendent Dr. Betsy Collums said the district will advertise immediately to fill Gillespie’s post.

• The board approve changes to both the teacher and student handbook for the 2013-14 school year.

• Trustees approved new school bus turnarounds.

• Trustees approved various scorekeepers, clock operators and security personnel for athletic events.


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