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School construction awarded

The Suffolk School Board on Thursday awarded a contract to construct two new schools in North Suffolk to Blueridge General Inc.

The Hampton Roads company bid $46.1 million for the new elementary and middle school combined, said Terry Napier, director of facilities and planning for Suffolk Public Schools.

Companies were able to respond to the bids in three ways: the elementary school only, the middle school only and both combined, Napier said.

Blueridge’s combined bid came in the lowest. The low bids for separate schools worked out to $147,000 more than Blueridge’s combined bid, Napier said.

Blueridge also had the low bid for the elementary school alone. The low bid for the middle school alone was submitted by Oyster Point Construction.

“They did come in within our budget numbers,” Napier said of Blueridge’s bid.

This is not Blueridge’s first time working with Suffolk Public Schools. The company also built Pioneer, Hillpoint, Creekside and Mack Benn Jr. elementary schools and King’s Fork Middle School, according to its website.

“We’re pleased he’s going to be working with us again,” Napier told School Board members, introducing Eric Stichler, president and principal of the company.

Construction work is expected to begin this month.

The new elementary school will replace the aging Florence Bowser and Driver elementary schools and be built where Florence Bowser is currently located, but on a larger site that includes adjacent land. Students from both schools will attend Driver for the next two years.

Previously, Florence Bowser has included only kindergarten and first grade, while second through fifth grades from the same attendance zone have gone to Driver. Mobile units from Florence Bowser will be moved to Driver.

The new middle school will hold 800 students and be built on Burbage Drive.

Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney recommended on Wednesday that the new elementary school retain the name of Florence Bowser. He also asked each School Board member to come to the July meeting with a name suggestion for the middle school.