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Bids rejected for new Lake Forest site

The board of Lake Forest Elementary Charter School met Wednesday in its first meeting since the new school year began, discussing some of the school’s key planning for the 2013-14 school year.

Principal Mardele Early informed the board that the Orleans Parish School Board rejected all bids for construction of a new Lake Forest site as being too high for the organization’s budget.  The rejection means another 80 days to restart the bidding process, pushing the prospective opening of a new Lake Forest school into 2016.

Board President Lee Caston said contractors bid around $311 per square foot for the new project.  The new Abramson high school, a similar-sized school building in the same area, received bids of nearly $40 less per square foot, consultant Kenneth Ducote estimated in a  letter released to the Lake Forest board.

Member Leila Eames said that, in her opinion, there were logical reasons for higher bids than on some area schools.  The Recovery School District allows contractors 24 months to complete construction, not the 18 months required by Orleans Parish School Board.  Less time for completion means more overtime and higher costs.  Also, the bid comes at a time when there is a lot of construction in New Orleans, and contractors can pick and choose projects.

Members questioned whether the new bids would really be substantially lower after the delay.

The board also announced a Cocktails and Blues event to be held at The Roosevelt Hotel on Oct. 12.  The event will start at 8 and feature New Orleans soul legend Irma Thomas.  General admission tickets will cost $55 in advance, $65 at the door.  For $75, attendees can also attend the VIP patron party before the event.

Director of development Joshua Fertitta told the board that the event should raise more than  $25,000 for the school, as well as improving the school’s name recognition.

“The idea is to brand Lake Forest city-wide,” he said.

Early also introduced the board to Robert Bell, Lake Forest’s new assistant principal.

“I’m honored to say I taught him in middle school and high school,” she said.  Bell said he had worked 16 years in the Orleans Parish system, before working for the past 7 years with Lafayette Academy, run by the Choice Foundation.

Also present were members Gina Dupart, Denise Williams Windi Brown, and Brian K. Richburg, Sr.  The meeting, which began at 1:35 p.m., concluded at 2:50 p.m.

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