Low bidder for school project rings a bell after all

PW-S board decides against paying premium for work after being reminded district has hired firm before
By 
BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington-Saukville School Board on Monday accepted the low bid of $266,631 for the construction of a secure entrance at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and office renovations two weeks after members debated paying a premium to have the work done by another company. 

Although its proposal was $11,000 more expensive than the low bid, C.D. Smith, the company managing the soon-to-be-completed, $46.5 million Port Washington High School project, was initially favored by some district officials because it is poised to complete the complex high school work on time and on budget.

There were questions about the low bidder, J.H. Hassinger of Menomonee Falls, and board members asked Director of Business Services Jim Froemming to investigate the firm’s work history. 

It turns out that the Port Washington-Saukville School District could be one of J.H Hassinger’s references.

The company was hired by the district to  make renovations at two of the district’s elementary schools, which included creating a secure entrance at Saukville Elementary School, in 2013 — something school officials didn’t initially recall. The firm has also completed projects at the Port Washington Senior Center and Ozaukee County Justice Center and for the Port Washington Historical Society. 

“They did a great job,” Froemming said of the work J.H. Hassinger did at the elementary schools. “They were on budget and on schedule.”

The middle school, which was not included in the building improvement initiative financed by the $49.4 million referendum approved in 2015, is the only school in the district that does not have a secure vestibule entrance. 

Visitors are buzzed into the building through a camera-monitored entrance on the north side of the school. From there, they must walk down a hall past the guidance department to the office.

J.H. Hassinger will convert the doors on the east side of the school into the school’s main entrance. Visitors will be buzzed into a secure vestibule, where they will have access to the office, and would have to be buzzed through a second set of locked doors to gain access to the rest of the school.

The project also includes extensive renovations to administrative offices and the construction of a visitor parking lot on the east side of the school off Holden Street. The existing lot on the north side of the school will continue to be the main parking area.

J.H Hassinger plans to begin work on the parking lot as soon as the weather allows. Work on the entrance and offices will begin when classes end for the school year in June and is expected to be completed by the beginning of August, Supt. Michael Weber said. 

The work will not affect summer school, he said.

The district will invest about $80,000 it received from Wisconsin Department of Justice school safety grants in the project and tap its reserves for the remaining balance of roughly $186,600. 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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