Education Alberta gives Wolf Creek a hard time over cost of tender

After the tender process for the Iron Ridge Modular Addition project closed Sept. 26, Wolf Creek Public School (WCPS) board trustees

After the tender process for the Iron Ridge Modular Addition project closed Sept. 26, Wolf Creek Public School (WCPS) board trustees were left with two options at vastly different prices.

The board, after being recommended by Superintendent Larry Henderson and Secretary-treasurer Joe Henderson, decided to accept the lower bid of $273,200, submitted by Shunda Consulting and Construction Management Ltd.

The other bidder, Pearl Rose Construction Ltd. applied for the project with a price tag of $349,348.

When WCPS first set the bid, it was around the $273,200 and was told to pare it down by Alberta Education before it went to tender, which they did, lowering the original tender invitation threshold to $205,200. Now, Shunda’s bid is over the original by $68,000, exactly at the initially set price, and that additional slice of money may have to come out of the board’s pocket.

Covering the bid is normally split 50-50 between the school board and the Alberta Government. “We’re going to be bang on where we thought we were if it’s split 50-50,” said Henderson.

Now the school board is being told, because the accepted bid is higher than what Alberta Education wanted, it may not be covered 50-50.

“I think it’s important that we as trustees be somewhat concerned here because we were given one point of view at the start and now we’re dealing with another point of view . . . I want it to be noted that I don’t feel we’re being treated fairly,” said trustee Bob Huff.

“Out of principle, I don’t like the change in attitude,” he added.

“The modulars are in production right now, we need them, we’re pretty much committed to going with what’s there,” said Henderson. He says if the government backpedals and the $68,000 falls in WCPS, it can appeal the decision.

Henderson says he’s had growing concerns since Alberta Education decided school boards had to pay 50 per cent of the cost because some may not have the reserves to do so but are still crying out for space to alleviate pressure within their schools. Alberta Education has mandated the money must also come from school boards’ capital budget.

“If we were to say no, our modular would go somewhere else,” said Henderson.