District stuck in the middle

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Schools: LAMS construction halted due to protest

By Whitney Jones

Even though the Los Alamos Board of Education recently awarded the Los Alamos Middle School construction project to McCarthy — which beat out two other companies - construction on the project has been delayed indefinitely.

That’s because one of the two companies that lost out to McCarthy, Albuquerque-based Bradbury Stamm, is protesting that McCarthy shouldn’t have received in-state preference. The company is also protesting similar awards by Santa Fe Public Schools and Los Lunas Public Schools.

In-state preference allows contractors to receive five additional points in a proposal evaluation process.
McCarthy was awarded in-state preference certification earlier this year by the state Taxation and Revenue Department — but Bradbury Stamm is arguing the certification was awarded in error.

According to Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt, until that determination is resolved, construction can’t begin at the middle school.

“It’s really inconvenient,” he said.

The delay poses a challenge for the school district, as officials were hoping to have the school completed in time for the 2013-2014 school year.

Legal counsel for the district issued a protest determination June 6 denying Bradbury Stamm’s claims in the protest.

Schmidt said his hopes are that the protest will affect only future projects and not those that have already been awarded. He said essentially the district shouldn’t be punished for awarding the bid appropriately.

A request under the state’s public information law to view Bradbury Stamm’s protest, the district’s response and all the bids submitted for the project had not been fulfilled as of Friday. The district has 15 days to respond to such requests.

Calls to Bradbury Stamm and McCarthy were not returned.  And a press inquiry to the state Taxation and Revenue Department also had not been returned.

Construction for the $18.5 million project is financed in part by a 2009 Bond as well as the Public School Facility Authority — which has awarded the Los Alamos Public Schools $5 million.