By Sterling McGinn

After the Tahquamenon Area Schools (TAS) Board of Education was faced with significantly high bids coming in for Phase II of the school bond project, the TAS Board voted to accept the rebidding at a special meeting held on Monday, April 1.

The first set of bids, which were due February 1, for the remainder of the school bond project were approximately $2.8 million over budget. The board voted on February 13 to reject them.

The new bids total $3,114.431.

The district is working with the engineering firm Wolgast Corporation to handle the bids. Wolgast readdressed the entire Phase II project, reconfiguring the scope of the work in order to reduce the cost.

“The central office and all of the site work is [removed],” said district Superintendent Stacy Price. “The electrical bid itself was $1.2 million less than last time.”

Project Manager Craig Myers said the original electrical bid was unreasonable and found another electrical contractor. The air-conditioning was also downsized but will give the same effect.

Newberry voters approved the TAS millage in 2021, bringing $9,750,000 to the district for necessary repairs and upgrades. The scope of work includes the remodeling the former junior high school, which was built in 1972. Security upgrades were another important component in the bond. When construction is completed, the historic high school will be closed, and all grades will be in the 1972 portion of the TAS facility.

Phase II includes renovations to the first-floor science rooms for future high school trades and art rooms, renovations to the library, including new entrance and bathrooms, replacement of sinks and casework throughout the first floor. There will also be two new restrooms added on the first floor, and elevator upgrades.

“We interviewed all these people, and they are very comfortable with where they stand with the bids and they understand the work to come,” Myers said. “We are at a much more reasonable price, and it is where is should be.”

The board also discussed the bid for a new security system, which came in at $73,221.45. Price said the district has $120,000 in ESSER funds for security cameras. “It is Federal dollars that have been given to us—I look at it as a gift that has been given to us, and we will probably not see it again,” Price said.

The bid for the camera system came from Verkada, a company that develops cloud-based building security and operating systems. The board watched a presentation about the system.

“A lot of time and effort has been put into looking at Verkada,” Price said. “I know it is top end, and I understand it is top end.”

The new camera system would also require wiring upgrades on site.

Some board members felt the cost was too high. After discussion, the board voted against purchasing the system. Trustees Laura Generou, Veronica Edwards and Eric Feldhusen voted against the motion.

The district will now explore other camera systems. The ESSER funds need to be used by September 30 of this year.