BLOSSBURG - The vote to reject all bids for the North Penn Schools building project was unanimous at a board meeting Tuesday night.
Though they didn't disclose what the bids were, or who they were from, board President Barb Shull said that just because the board rejected the bids, it didn't mean the project is canceled.
"This does not mean the project automatically stops, just that these bids will not be accepted. At some point in the future different bids will be accepted, if the project continues," Shull said.
The board also voted to terminate its contract with Reynolds Construction Management Inc.
Again Shull said the decision does "not stop the project but it does terminate the contract with Reynolds and allows us to pursue another opportunity to manage the project in a different way for less money if it continues on."
The board also voted to approve entering into a contract with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, of Mechanicsburg, to complete a feasibility study for $17,000, which includes an assessment of the bids received, design and program analysis and potential cost savings without reducing educational program.
Just prior to the board taking action on the three items involving the building project, three people addressed the board. Two of them informed the board that the total cost of the project, at the end of the 20-year mortgage, would be estimated to be more than $30 million, not the $19-20 million that has been discussed.
Leon Kocher, of Covington Township, told the board it needs to develop some "intestinal fortitude" in dealing with the challenges it faces, in the interest of the taxpayers and the students and realize that attendance is dropping, reducing the need for the district to keep all the schools open.
"I encourage the board to get tough about this. I also wanted to thank you all. It is a thankless job and we appreciate what you are doing for us," he said.
Frank Higgins Jr., of Blossburg, told the board he had seen state Rep. Matthew E. Baker, R-Wellsboro, earlier in the day and had "given him an earful" concerning the unfairness of the state government to suddenly yank the building reimbursement after the district has "spent all the money on architectural fees and have the money in place for the project."
Glenn Shaffer, of Liberty Township, reminded the board that spending $31 million on a new school building will have "a lot bigger impact not only on those of us in this room but our neighbors, too."
"Most of mine are senior citizens. I have one who is in his 70s who cuts and sells firewood to make extra money. I hope I don't have to do that when I am that age because it isn't going to work out too well," he added.
He also said the state reimbursement is only on the construction costs for the project, a portion of the $19 million figure estimated for the entire project.
"Reimbursement or not, we are still on the hook for $31 million," he said.
The board's next regular meeting is at Mansfield High School May 14.