Despite a decision by the Frederick County Board of Education to reject bids for the school’s demolition, construction of a new Urbana Elementary School is expected to be finished on time.
Work will start as much as two weeks later than scheduled on the Urbana Elementary School site, but a delay caused by a bidding miscommunication won’t affect construction or completion of the replacement school.
The Frederick County Board of Education rejected bids on the recommendation of Frederick County Public Schools staff on Wednesday for the demolition of the current Urbana Elementary School. A new Urbana Elementary is planned to be constructed in the old school’s place.
On the same day, the Frederick County Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a site development plan for the new school, despite questions about the inclusion of portable classrooms on the plan.
The bids were rejected due to a “discrepancy between the way things were worded and the way they were interpreted by bidders,” the staff recommendation read. FCPS received 125 proposals from six companies for the demolition of the current Urbana Elementary. Paul Lebo, the school district’s chief operating officer, said they presented it to the board for transparency purposes and will request new bids.
“There was nothing wrong, just a large disparity between some of the information the bidders provided,” Lebo said in an interview.
The demolition, originally scheduled for Sept. 1, is now expected to start around Sept. 15. Though the demolition could be pushed back as much as two weeks, Lebo said time is built into the construction plan so that pushing back the start date a few weeks won’t cause a delay.
“Worst case is it will push it back two weeks, but we have some buffers built in,” Lebo said. “There won’t be an impact on construction.”
The original opening date of the new Urbana Elementary was slated for September 2020, and Lebo said it will still open on schedule.
Under the current plan, the existing school would be demolished and a two-story, 725-student school would be built on the property.
The building’s design includes a hard-surface play area to the back of the school that could be used as a site for six portable classrooms, although those are not part of the plan being approved Wednesday and would require a new site plan review if they ever need to be involved.
Commissioner Carole Jaar Sepe asked whether the square footage of the portable classrooms should be included.
The square footage figures used for adequate public facilities and other calculations are based on the building not including the portable classrooms, Sepe said.
The plan showed the portables for future use because it makes it easier to place them if they’re needed, said Brad Ahalt, senior project manager of construction for Frederick County Public Schools.
“Portable classrooms are not a part of this plan. They’re purely shown for future use when the need arises,” Ahalt said.
FCPS has struggled recently to meet growing enrollment numbers districtwide. Butterfly Elementary School, a recently constructed school opening this fall, will open at near capacity. Many other schools are at or over capacity.
Commissioner Sharon Suarez suggested that the areas for the portables should be shown on the plan, perhaps as a dashed line, but not the portables themselves.
Among the conditions included in the commission’s approval was a note that the six portable classrooms are for future consideration and not included in that approval.