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SANTA ANA : School District Gets Extension on Project

The Santa Ana Unified School District has received a 60-day extension to spend $5.8 million on a desperately needed school construction project.

The extension rescues the district, which had missed a state deadline to spend the funds on converting offices into an elementary school.

The State Allocation Board, which set aside the money last year, granted the extension last week because the district was making a good-faith effort to complete the project, said Mike Vail, senior director of facilities for the district.

The project will turn the former district headquarters at 1405 French St. into an elementary school.

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Meeting the new deadline should be no problem, officials said. The school district board last week awarded a contract for the work, so the project is moving along as the state expects, Vail said.

The delay was due in large part to errors on behalf of two companies bidding on the project. They failed to submit a legally required affidavit stating they did not collude to fix prices, and even though they were the lowest bidders, the Board of Education could not consider their proposals, he said.

A third bid came in at $254,000 more than was budgeted for the renovation, so the board requested the companies to bid for the project again. The delay caused the district to exceed the 180-day limit for spending the money, Vail said.

Ironically, even though the delay jeopardized the project, it also resulted in major cost savings. Vail noted that the district awarded the building contract for $371,000 less than the lowest eligible bid in the original round of bidding.

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