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Knoch accepts bid for high school renovation

SAXONBURG — After a two-month delay, the Knoch School District awarded the general construction bid for the renovation of Knoch High School at its monthly school board meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

According to district superintendent David Foley, the winning bidder was Mark Hudson Construction, based out of Hermitage, Pa.

“This is it; this is the moment we’ve been waiting for,” Foley said. “This is a long time in the making, some say 30 years, some say 50 years. This is a very important time in the history of the district.”

The district was originally supposed to award the general contractor bid back in August. However, at a special meeting that month, the school board members opted to reject all three bids they had received, finding them to be too expensive to work with.

As a result, Knoch worked with architecture firm DRAW Collective to reduce the scope and costs of the renovation project. This meant cutting the rear “site work,” which would have included a new student parking lot and drop-off area.

Ultimately, DRAW Collective’s work paid off — this time, four contractors put in bids.

“I think it's unfortunate that we couldn't do the site work, but we're very excited about all the different construction going on inside the building,” Foley said.

At last week’s school board work session, representatives from DRAW Collective drew up three potential scenarios for how to proceed with the renovation. All three were projected to come close to the district’s proposed budget of just over $38.5 million.

The school board decided to go with the third option, which is estimated to cost just over $39 million. This will include the addition of a new STEM lab, a wellness center, several chemistry labs, a theater classroom, and a renovated cafeteria and kitchen space, among other enhancements.

“The inside is going to look a lot different than it currently does,” Foley said.

While this is over the $38.5 million budget, the district is hoping that it can save money by reducing the scope of the planned mechanical, electrical and plumbing work.

Although the school district was forced to reject its first batch of general contractor bids back in August, it did accept bids for the plumbing, electrical, HVAC and food service portions of the project. According to Foley, those winning bids are still in effect and will not be put back up for bid.

“We now know what the scope of the project is, so the board will go back to those contractors with the explanation of what the final project is,” Foley said.

A kickoff meeting for the contractors is planned for Nov. 29. The school district estimates that the renovation project will be complete by the start of the 2025-26 school year.

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