Price estimates rise for security fencing at Salisbury High School

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, September 14, 2022

SALISBURY — Discussion among board of education members over a single bid to add an additional 920 linear feet of fencing around Salisbury High School got testy Monday evening when several board members said the issue has dragged on too long.

However, Chairman Dean Hunter asked for some adjusted numbers at the next meeting because the bid price was $150,000 higher than what is currently allocated, adding “we will take a vote at that meeting.”

The district put the project out to bid at the end of August after five interested parties attended the pre-bid walk-through of the property on Aug. 15, according to Anthony Vann, chief operations officer. The school already has 4,800 linear feet of fencing. By the time bids were due on Aug. 29 for the additional 920 feet of fencing, only two of them submitted bids.

Vann explained that it is an official bid process, so unless the city received at least three bids, they could not open any of them. The bids were returned to the two companies, and “we re-advertised the very next day, Aug. 30,” said Vann. “On Sept. 6, the next day we could open bids, we had only one.” But regulations allow that after a second request for bids, the town could open whatever they received.

It was a bid from Fence Builders, Inc. for $850,192 for installation of heavy-gauge aluminum fencing, gates, several brick columns and a few additional necessities.

But the city has budgeted only $700,000.

“We are asking the board to consider using money from the capital fund balance to cover the difference,” said Vann, who added that the district has had “a lot of difficulty with vendors being able to give pricing on any projects because of the supply chain issues and because of the lack of qualified labor.” But he said this particular vendor is fairly confident that once started, they could complete the project in four to six months.

“How much money do we have access to in our fund balance?” asked Hunter, and when the answer came, he jokingly said, “I’m not going to repeat that out loud.”

There is approximately $6.1 million in the fund balance.

However, Hunter added that he knows everyone is having sticker shock, including the public. “We’re talking just shy of $1,000 per linear foot for a fence,” he said. “I know this is happening everywhere. I don’t even like to go to Lowe’s anymore.”

Part of the design includes brick columns that Vann said the architects from ADW Architects included “so that it looks very much like the columns on the building and like it’s been there forever.” Hunter asked what the reduction might be if the columns were left out and instead just standard anchor pieces were used. Vann said they’d have to go back to the vendor to find out, which would take several days. Not everyone was happy about another postponement.

Alisha Byrd-Clark, vice chair of the board, said the board has been told “there is a serious security issue with people just walking through the campus. This has been on our agenda since Dr. Moody was here. We should be beyond that. I think what has been presented is what is needed, and I think we should move forward.” She then made a motion to vote on the fencing as it was proposed Monday, but the motion was defeated.

Jones raised one other concern — students possibly leaving gates propped open.

“The student parking lot is outside the fence, and if they are going to their car, dropping a back pack, getting clothes or equipment for tennis practice or whatever sport, are they going to end up leaving the gates open and are we then paying a lot of money for security that doesn’t work?” he asked.

Vann said there are access points and assured the board the gates would be kept closed.

In the end, the board decided to wait to hear what the cost reduction will be if they go without the columns, and will plan to vote at the next meeting in two weeks.

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