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Cranbury school board rejects first round of bids for referendum improvement projects

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District working with architects to revise bid specifications

Coming in over budget, the Cranbury Township Board of Education (BOE) rejected the first round of construction bids for Cranbury School’s Full Steam Ahead referendum projects.

The school district is now working with its architects to revise bid specifications for a next round of bids that fall in line with the project budget.

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Cranbury voters had approved a $18.46 million referendum to fund the improvements at the school.

The Cranbury Township BOE rejected the bids at a special meeting on May 26.

“The middle of May was the deadline for contractors to submit a bid and they were all publicly opened,” said Jennifer Diszler, chief school administrator at The Cranbury School, in a letter to the school community. “Unfortunately, all eight bids that came in were substantially over our budget for the project.”

“This does not mean that we are out of luck, and quite honestly, we were expecting it because of the post-COVID world we are living in.

“What it does mean is that we need to pivot, redesign and submit new specs,” Diszler said. “I share this with you all so that you are in the loop and understand why fences for construction have not gone up yet and may not until we are into next school year.”

The lowest base bid in the first round was from Imperial Construction & Electric, a company based in Elizabeth, at $21.9 million. Highest bid came from J.H. Williams Enterprises, Inc. with $26 million.

Cranbury School Business Administrator David Weidele said they are working with the architects to “value engineer” the project, which will allow the district “to look at the project in totality from a broader perspective and see what areas may be able to be scaled back in scope while still meeting the intent and addressing the need to deliver what was promised and sold to the public.”

This process, which has already begun, will involve key stakeholders including the architect team, administration members and the school board and is going to take place throughout the summer, according to Weidele.

“Once we review the project and fine tune these specifications to reduce areas that we saw a significant cost attached, we plan to make the specifications available to contractors again for bidding,” he said.
The $18.46 million referendum figure that was approved has not changed and will not change, officials said.
“However, that number does not represent an actual budget number for the amount of construction that will take place as there are other costs such as architectural and engineering fees included within that figure,” Weidele said.
In April, the school held an official ribbon cutting ceremony for the new auxiliary gym. The construction of the gym was the start of the school’s planned facility projects but was not part of the approved referendum.
Construction was completed in January and had been funded through the school district capital reserve fund.

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