Only bid on new Caribou school so far is $10-12 million over budget

6 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — RSU 39’s estimated $50 million pre-kindergarten to eighth grade elementary school project is facing some uncertainties as only one contractor so far has bid to build it and the offer is $10-$12 million over the state Department of Education’s budget for the new facility.

Superintendent Tim Doak told board members during a May 2 RSU 39 meeting that the project is back in the hands of the DOE for further investigation.

“There have been continuous talks between the architect [PDT Architects of Portland] and the general contractor to see what can happen with the DOE,” Doak said. [RSU 39 Business Manager Mark Bouchard] and I have either attended or been on the phone for at least five meetings in regards to this, and just this afternoon I spoke to the architect again about what’s going to happen.”

The superintendent said the deadline for bids is Wednesday, May 9, at which point “the state will tell us what the next move is.”

Doak added that the issue is likely a result of a demanding construction market south of Bangor.

“It’s a perfect storm,” he said. “It’s very hard to get contractors to come up to northern Maine when the market is so demanding in the southern part of the state.”

As an example, he said that Colby College in Waterville recently took on a $300 million project and that, when he visited the Department of Education office last week, Doak saw two large scale construction projects taking place in Augusta.

Caribou’s new school, which is scheduled to be completed by mid 2020, is the first of eight school projects lined up for the state.

“The expense for contractors to come up here, and getting subcontractors, will be a challenge,” he told the board. “Hopefully, the DOE will have an answer for us soon and I’ll be able to get back to you.”