Lawmaker calls for investigation into possible price gouging among ‘Cool Schools’ bids

Local News

A state lawmaker is calling on the Attorney General to look into school air-conditioning bids.

We were the first to tell you earlier this week that there was a delay in cooling classrooms, because contractor bids were coming back too high.

Now, Rep. Matthew LoPresti, who represents the Ewa Beach area, is asking the Attorney General’s office to investigate whether contractors artificially inflated their bids for profit.

Read his request here.

As an example, LoPresti said, the DOE said the bid for one photovoltaic-powered air conditioning project with an estimated cost of $20,000 came in at more than $100,000.

“Given the estimates the industry gave of about $20,000 to $40,000 per classroom, and now we’re getting bids, it seems, between $80,000 and $135,000 a classroom,” he said. “That jump is inexplicable.

“As summer’s heating up again and we’re going to have our kids back in school in a very short time, the delays that seem to be coming up due to the high bids seem unacceptable,” he added.

This past session, the legislature approved more than $100 million to add air conditioners to 1,000 classrooms by the end of this year.

Now, some schools won’t be cooled until March.

LoPresti noted that there were also complaints from contractors that the bid specifications for a $20,000 project were up to 100 pages long, which makes submitting a bid expensive and complicated.

“I would like the DOE to take a look at the bidding process and simplify the documents if possible,” he said.

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