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WATERLOO -- An abundance of bids for demolition of the former Edison School showed the Board of Education on Monday just how high costs could go on the project.

The board approved a $379,000 contract with Lehman Trucking & Excavating of Waterloo, but the five other bids ranged from $457,630 to $688,700.

"The low bid was low by lots," said board member Sue Flynn. "I was just kind of excited to see there was multiple bids."

Officials said the winning bid was on the low end of expected costs to raze the 102-year-old building at 740 Magnolia Parkway.

"I think, for the scope of work, it is a little lower," said Michael Coughlin, Waterloo Community Schools' chief financial officer. "We were pleased with this number."

He assured board members coming in at a lower price didn't mean less would be done with the site.

"First of all, the specs are there that everybody has to meet," said Coughlin, including grading the property when the rubble is removed. "They have to see the grade at a certain level. It is a finished project at the end."

In addition, he noted, "this contractor is very well known, very well trusted." Other contractors who bid on the project are from Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois.

Asbestos, a hazardous material once used in various parts of school buildings, was recently removed from Edison. Board members voiced concern about the nearly $550,000 cost for that work at Edison and the former Orange School when the contract with another company was approved in April. Only three companies bid on that project.

The school has been empty since closing in 2011. It was built as an elementary school but also included junior high students for about 30 years after an expansion in the 1950s. Most Edison students moved to Fred Becker Elementary School, built on the site of the former Black Hawk Elementary School.

Edison will be torn down this fall and winter. The site will then be graded in the spring so the district can look at property disposal options.

In other business, the board approved submitting a request to the State Budget Review Committee for $823,072 in modified allowable growth for the district's limited English proficient program. That will boost spending authority for the program serving English language learners next year to the level of actual costs in 2015-16.

Charles McNulty, associate superintendent for educational services, said "it takes between five and seven years for a young person to gain academic English." As a result, many are in the program longer than funding is provided by the state. According to the board memo, the district has 939 students speaking at least 24 languages.

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Courier

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