New school construction in Orange Beach hits a snag

Baldwin County

BAY MINETTE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Baldwin County Board of Education has voted to take “no action” on a bid to build a new Middle/High School in Orange Beach that was $20 million over estimated construction costs. 

They are still moving dirt on the site where the county plans to build a new middle and high school in Orange Beach the day after the school board took “no action” on the only bid they received to build the schools.  “The bid was two and a half times what was budgeted and the biggest reason was the contractors just did not feel they could meet that timeline with the hurricane that just happened in Panama City. There is just not a labor to go around,” says Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon.

The school system had budgeted 25 million dollars to build the complex. Thrash Contractors believed it would take more like 42.7 million dollars.  “We’re going to go back to the drawing board and hopefully extend the time frame so we can get a budget worthy number but unfortunately that will probably put us behind a year in opening the school,” says Kennon.

That delay will have a direct impact on their neighbors to the west, Gulf Shores.  They plan to start their own city school system next year.  “We’re still determined and committed to open in 19,” says Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft.  “That is something we still feel that is important. We have a school board, we’re this far into this thing and we can’t stop. But, we will do whatever we need to do to accommodate the Orange Beach students until they do figure it out.”

In the meantime, school officials are taking another look at the bid process and trying to work out a solution.  “We’re going to figure out something for certain grades to stay in Orange Beach next year,” says Kennon.  “We’re going to meet next week put our options together, weigh the pros and cons and then present it to the community and see if we can get some consensus.”

School superintendent Eddie Tyler hopes to have a plan to move the project forward later this month.

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