NORTH ADAMS -- The opening of general contracting bids on the Conte school project has been delayed a week.

The general contractor's bids were set to be unveiled Monday, but that has been pushed back to March 17 after a protest on a subcontracting bid that was opened last month.

Ken Guyette, of Strategic Building Solutions, the firm serving as owner project manager, told School Building Committee members the protest comes from Champlain Masonry Inc. of Pittsfield, the lowest bidder for masonry work. A form was missing a signature, he said, and it was believed to be a minor technicality at the time.

"After discussing it with the [state] attorney general's office, they said the requirement of this signature ... was a statutory requirement, and we were required to reject the bid," he said.

A protest hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Springfield, he said, where the attorney general's office will decide whether or not the bid will be accepted.

The committee will meet next Monday at 5 p.m. to review the general contractor bids, which are expected to be opened earlier that afternoon.

Depending on how accurate the general contractor estimates are, Mayor Richard J. Alcombright has said, the project may have to be scaled down or re-bid altogether. If the project is re-bid, it could delay the opening of the school, currently slated for fall of 2015.

Champlain Masonry's bid of $2.3 million was roughly 24 percent over budget, Guyette noted. Two other firms submitted bids -- Cantarella & Sons Inc. of Pittsfield for $2.67 million, and Lighthouse Masonry Inc. of New Bedford at $3.45 million.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority has approved a $31 million budget for the building project, which will house kindergarten through seventh-grade students. The MSBA has agreed to reimburse the city for 80 percent, or $23.2 million, of construction costs.

City officials and the School Building Committee are closely watching the general contractor bids after the total of lowest subcontracting bids came in nearly $1 million over estimates. The city expected painting, electrical, and other subcontractor work to total $12.1 million, but bids came in closer to $13 million, a differential of about 8 percent.