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The first construction projects to tap into the $12 million in federal bonds that voters approved for Billings School District 2 will begin this summer and on Wednesday the school board awarded the bids.

API Systems Integrators will install updated fire alarm systems at Broadwater, Washington, Burlington and Miles Avenue elementary schools. The total cost of the project will be $238,082.

Cucancic Construction won the bid to replace windows at Washington and Bench elementary schools. The project at Washington will cost $353,318. For Bench, the total will be $308,982.

Fisher Construction will replace windows at Highland and Poly Drive elementary schools. The total cost for the Poly Drive project will $303,696. For Highland, it will be $196,136.

Rich Whitney, SD2's facilities director, said both companies were based in Billings and each had worked for the district before and had a "proven track record."

Fisher and Cucancic will install windows made by DeSCo Architectural Windows out of South Dakota.

Overall, bids for the five projects came in $438,000 below what the district had budgeted.

"We're pleased about that," Superintendent Keith Beeman said.

Over the summers of 2012 and 2013, the district will be replacing roofs at seven schools, and officials there are unsure at what amount those bids will come in.

As Japan begins to rebuild after its earthquake and tsunami, its demand on commodities will likely affect prices worldwide, Beeman said.

Also, as unrest continues to spread in the Middle East, oil prices could continue to be volatile. That will also affect the commodities market, Beeman said.

"We are not certain what impact ... that will have on our bids," he said.

The money the district saves on the windows and fire alarms projects could be put toward the roofing projects, he said.

That prompted Trustee Connie Wardell to wonder why the district had to wait until 2012 or 2013 to start the roof work.

"I'm uncomfortable with pushing this off," she said.

Whitney said the district has waited because, traditionally, roofing companies take bids in the late fall and early winter. It's at that point the market is most competitive and the school district could get the best price.

Beeman told the board his staff would look into the feasibility of going out for bid now for roofing projects this summer.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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