A Superior Court judge will decide Monday whether to let construction on the new Evans Middle School go forward.
Attorneys argued before Judge Neal Dickert on Tuesday concerning a temporary restraining order that halted the construction of the school on Hereford Farm Road.
The restraining order was signed on March 31 by Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. and pre- vents construction of the school by McKnight Construction Co.
The Columbia County School Board recently awarded an $11.26 million contract to McKnight to build the school.
In Tuesday's hearing, a lawyer for R.D. Brown Contractors Inc., the second-lowest bidder for the construction project, called the awarding of the contract to McKnight illegal.
McKnight failed to submit a list of subcontractors until nearly two hours after the bids were opened on March 15.
The school board called the oversight a technicality and waived the requirement at a March 22 meeting.
"It makes a sham of the competitive bidding process," said R.D. Brown attorney Paul Dunbar.
School board attorney William Fleming pleaded with Dickert to lift a restraining order that prevents McKnight from building the school.
The school is set to open August 2006.
The board saved Columbia County taxpayers $60,000 by not awarding the contract to R.D. Brown, Fleming said to the judge.
"They (the school board) didn't see it in their best interest to strictly follow that requirement," he argued.
Dickert said he will consider the arguments and render a decision on Monday.
All sides of the issue agreed to move quickly on the matter, so construction of the school can begin as soon as possible.
"There is a concern as to how long this will drag out," said Bill Morris, an assistant superintendent who attended Tuesday's court proceeding.
McKnight attorney Jack Long told Dickert that it took McKnight 18 months to build Greenbrier Middle School, which has the same floor plan as the new Evans Middle.
In order to start classes in the new school by the beginning of the 2006-07 school year, the school needs to be constructed in 14 months.
Work on the school was scheduled to begin April 4, but the restraining order filed by R.D. Brown prevents any work from going forward on the project.
"There's always those things that, unfortunately, come up," Morris said. "We'd prefer it if we could get started sooner than later."
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