CVU preps for summer auditorium work3/19/09

March 19, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Now that area voters have approved funding for Champlain Valley Union High School’s auditorium upgrades, the work begins on finding a contractor for the first phase of the two-year project.

Chittenden South Supervisory Union Chief Operations Officer Bob Mason said on Monday that CSSU is in the pre-qualification phase for contractors before the bidding process begins. Mason explained that builders send resumes, examples of past work and references to the supervisory union to be considered as potential contractors.

“Basically, they send in packets that are kind of like marketing brochures,” Mason said, adding he’s accepting applications from in-state and out-of-state contractors.

Mason said he and his staff are reviewing materials and looking for builders with experience in timely construction and school projects. He said the auditorium renovation project was advertised on appropriate Web sites and in area newspapers.

CVU School Board Chairwoman Jeanne Jensen said the bidding process will likely begin in mid-April. By law, bidding cannot begin until 30 days after the Town Meeting vote passed. Jensen said the time allows citizens to petition the vote.

Voters in Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne and Williston, by a tally of 2,217-1,329, approved the use of $537,000 in leftover construction funds for the auditorium. Voters also approved, 2,546-999, to allow the School Board to take $140,000 from its current fund balance to offset taxes in next year’s budget and to put additional funds toward the auditorium. Private donations and sponsors are also helping to raise money. Currently, there is just more than $1 million available for the first phase of the renovation.

Once the 30 days have passed, contractors will bid on the project, according to Mason. The School Board will then have a chance to review all bids before making a decision.

“We’re hoping the bids will be very competitive,” Jensen said, citing the poor construction climate and current recession.

The School Board is also compiling a list of add-on projects for the auditorium if bids come in well under budget. In a proposed renovation plan, new catwalks and an improved electrical system would be installed, among other major changes. Jensen said the plan is to begin the renovations this summer and have the first phase completed no later than September.

A second renovation phase will likely occur the summer of 2010. Mason said law requires the bidding process for the rest of the project to begin again next spring.