No decision on auditorium bids, board exploring options

Published 1:27 am Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Andalusia Superintendent of Education Ted Watson has been a principal, an assistant principal, a teacher and a coach during his education career. On Monday, he sounded more like a yoga instructor.

“Everybody’s just got to take a deep breath. We’ll figure this out,” Watson told school board members.

Watson was recommending deep breathing as a response to the opening of bids last week for a proposed project to renovate Andalusia High School’s auditorium. The low bid, which was $5.1, was approximately $1.1 million higher that a professional estimator had predicted, and did not include architect’s fees, which will be approximately 8 percent.

The auditorium project includes demolition of the current stage area, expanding that end of the building, new seats, acoustical improvements and a new sound system.

The bids do not include work on the stadium, which will be the second phase of school construction project. That project, which is expected to cost more than the auditorium, includes a new pressbox, new home bleachers, moving the field, and new facilities for softball and visiting players.

“This is going to take some studying, and some patience – on behalf of us and the people in the community who want to see this project moving faster than it’s moving,” Watson said.

Watson said he and the City of Andalusia’s director of planning, Andy Wiggins, met with Perry Taylor, who manages “all things building” for the state Board of Education to get clarification on whether the city could do part of the work to make the project more affordable.

“Because this is a different animal, the Building Commission has to be involved,” Watson said.

Watson said options include working with the architect to value engineer the project, making it less costly. If the school system decided to act as general contractor, it would have to bid any item that cost more than $50,000, and might not ultimately yield any savings, he said.

The superintendent also may negotiate with contractors about their bids, but the bids cannot be changed more than 10 percent.

Watson is meeting with the architect later this week to discuss moving forward.