FLORENCE, Ala. - The Florence Board of Education moved forward with opening bids Thursday afternoon for construction of a new middle school.
Tension has been swirling around the project since UNA showed interest in purchasing the future site.
As two o’clock arrived, the project architect for Florence Middle School cut open the bids. School system leaders said they received two fewer bids than they were expecting.
“With all of the publicity and all of the negativity that’s been going on lately, there were some contractors who decided they did not want to bid,” stated Connie Wallace, Assistant Superintendent and CFO of the Florence City Schools.
This could have driven up the price of construction. Craig Construction provided the low bid at slightly more than $36-million. That’s $6-million more than the school system was estimating the project to cost.
“We will look at reducing some of those costs and some of the things we just can’t afford to do,” Wallace explained.
Wallace said under state law they can remove up to 10% of the total project cost without re-bidding. A move that brings the overall cost closer to their pocket-book.
It’s important to note, the University of North Alabama has not filed any kind of court papers asking for the Florence City Schools to halt progress on the middle school project.
School system administrators plan to meet with the city of Florence about a traffic study for the new school on March 1st.