EAST WENATCHEE — Maybe a month will make a difference.
That’s the hope of Eastmont School District administrators in search of construction contractors interested in the $17.8 million project to build 20 new classrooms, four cafeterias and other facility improvements at five elementary schools.
The project, part of the district’s reconfiguration plan, went out to bid in April, with bids expected to be open Thursday.
“As of May 1, all potential bidders for our school projects confirmed they are not bidding,” Superintendent Garn Christensen said in an email to employees last week. “We were told this is due to an abundance of other public work projects that are closer to school contractors’ home communities (Spokane, Tri-Cities or Seattle) and a shortage of skilled subcontractors.”
The district, after consulting with the architects, opted to extend the deadline to June 6, which would still allow the projects to be completed by fall 2020.
Christensen said he is hoping the delay creates a window of opportunity for contractors to change their mind and bid on the project.
If that doesn’t work, the plan is to rebid the project in January, which would delay the projects for a year — and delay the reconfiguration to K-6 elementary schools and two junior high schools — until the 2021-22 school year.
“This is not ideal but was determined to be the best option given the current commercial construction boom in Eastern and Western Washington,” Christensen said.
In March, the school board approved the sale of $13.5 million in general obligation bonds to assure the district has the cash flow to complete the elementary school projects. The bonds will be repaid within five years from proceeds of the six-year capital levy approved by voters in 2016 and reimbursement-based state grants.
The bond sale is expected to close May 23.