Harlan County School Board rejects HVAC bids

Published 10:26 am Wednesday, October 12, 2022

During a recent meeting, the Harlan County School Board rejected bids for new HVAC systems at a pair of elementary schools.

Board Chairman Gary Farmer brought up the subject, with Superintendent Brent Roark advising the board on the details of bids for HVAC work at seven district facilities, including Black Mountain and Cawood Elementary schools.

“I had a really bad feeling about those bids from the start,” Roark said. “We had one or two bidders. The bidders I hoped would bid didn’t bid. They said they had too much work, and they couldn’t do it.”

Roark advised the board that $5.4 million had been allocated for the work. However, the bids received were higher than the funding available.

“It actually came in at $7.8 million dollars,” Roark said. “That’s $2.4 million over budget. I was shocked at that number; I didn’t think it would be that high.”

Roark said when he received the bids, he began looking for an avenue to lower the cost.

“The two that came in horribly over budget were Black Mountain and Cawood, and that was because they were using the fresh air units,” Roark said. “That was causing them to have to do new duct work and new ceiling grids, so we took the fresh air (units) off of it, and we believe we can change the scope of work and drop those bids.”

Roark told the board he could not recommend the current bids.

“I can’t put that bid through at $7.8 million. We don’t have it,” Roark said. “What I’m asking the board to do tonight is reject the bids on Black Mountain and Cawood. Let me change the scope of work take out those fresh air units. They’ll still get exactly what they were supposed to get as far as the rooftop unit.”

The change would include larger rooftop equipment which does not require fresh air units or new duct work.

“If it’s agreeable with the board, I’ll ask you to reject the bids for Black Mountain and Cawood; let us change the scope of work on those two projects and rebid them,” Roark said. “On the others, I don’t want you to act on them. That will let us get these two rejected; we’ll get new bids in, we’ll be able to go over it at a special called meeting or the next board meeting, and then you all can accept all seven of them as one package.”

The board followed Roark’s recommendation, passing a motion to reject the two bids.

In other board activity:

• The board approved an interlocal agreement with the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office;

• The board approved a motion to increase substitute bus driver pay to $15 per hour;

• The board accepted a proposal from Ford Brothers Auctioneers to sell at auction property the board has declared surplus at Wallins;

• The board passed a motion approving the consent agenda.