Sunday, February 11, 2001

Mason Schools in the money

Bids coming in low for project

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MASON — Initial bids for a high school/community center complex here may mean Mason City Schools will have some money for other projects once the complex is completed next year.

        The schools and city are collaborating on a 355,000-square-foot high school, to open in August 2002, and a 140,000-square-foot recreation center to open five months later.

        They are being constructed on a city-owned, 73-acre tract along Mason-Montgomery Road, between Main Street and Mason High School. Eventually, Mason will build a municipal building on the site, too.

        An analysis of 26 bid packages, prepared by Mason Schools business director Mike Brannon, shows bids on the building itself have come in about $6.2 million under the original $54.1 million budget.

        Costs for other aspects of the project — technology, security and furniture— are higher than planned, but Mr. Brannon said he still believes the project should be built for almost $3.6 million less than the 1999 estimates of $71.9 million. Included in the cost estimates is a $2.5 million contingency fund to cover cost overruns, said Richard Gardner, Mason Schools treasurer.

        “The success of this endeavor is phenomenal,” Mr. Brannon said Tuesday when reviewing bids for masonry, electric and steel fabrication works with the Mason Board of Education.

        So far, five bid packages have been awarded. If all goes as planned, the board will award contracts on several other packages Monday that will total just under $48 million.

        Should all bids hold true to the revised estimates and money becomes available once the books are closed on the project late next year or early 2003, other improvements will be planned, said Shelly Benesh, district spokeswoman.


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