Science lab bids too high, rejected


Planned renovations to the science laboratories at Howard JTC High School may have to be scaled back because the costs are too high, county school officials announced last week.

The Howard County school board rejected all bids Thursday for science lab renovations at Howard and Atholton high schools because they were too high.

The lowest bid for the work at Howard was more than $200,000 above the $550,000 set aside for the work, said Associate Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin. The scope of the work planned at Howard may have to be reduced, he said.

Grace Lee, president of Howard's PTSA, said she was disappointed that the renovations might have to be cut back and hopes the school system will find another way to cut costs.

The lowest bid for the Atholton renovations was slightly more than the $320,000 set aside for that project.

It is unlikely that the scheduled work at Atholton will have to be changed very much, Cousin said.

Atholton and Howard were selected in January to be part of Maryland's Look of the Future High School Science Program. Under the program, the schools received money from the state -- which had to be matched by the county -- to renovate and update their science labs.

The work was to have been completed in the summer, but school officials postponed it until next summer because bids came in too high last spring.

At the time, school officials said the bids were too high because they didn't seek them until late in the school year after most contractors already had lined up summer work.

Contractors would have had to pay a lot of overtime to get the work done, the officials said.

But at Thursday's board meeting, officials conceded that the bids still might be too high because the scope of the work may be greater than the money set aside.

Also, the cost of the projects may be higher than expected because school officials want the work completed during the 10-week summer break.

Cousin said he will consider starting the renovations before the current school year ends or allowing contractors to finish after the schools reopen in the fall.

But if that doesn't lower the bids, Cousin said the extent of the renovations may have to be reduced, particularly at Howard, where the bids were so much higher than the amount set aside.

Cousin promised the board that the renovations at both schools will not be delayed another school year.

Pub Date: 12/16/96

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