It is understood that three contractors have already dropped out of the race after deciding not to waste time drawing up detailed tenders.
One contractor told the Enquirer: “This is a real sign of the times. Where have they been, this breaks every good procurement rule in the book.
“Things are very tight at the moment and we are being expected to waste our money on bid races like this. No wonder some are throwing in the towel.”
He added: “The number of subcontractors and suppliers that are going to waste time putting in prices to allow bids to be drawn up is mind boggling.”
The project to combine two existing schools into a new Cumnock Primary School attracted many firms to submit PQQs, including local and Irish contractors along with mainstream builders.
The official tender invitation published in the European Official Journal stipulated that the council would be looking to limit the bidding process to five firms.
But that plan has been thrown out in favour of a much wider field of contractors.
One council employee said: “The decision was taken to extend the bidders to give more local guys a chance to bid for the project.”
Now Seddon, Morgan Sindall and Hadden are understood to have decided to drop out despite being invited to tender.
The remaining line-up of bidders is believed to be:
Ashleigh, Barr Construction, CBC, CCG, Dawn, Graham, Interserve, Kier, Mansell, McLaughlin & Harvey, O’Hare & McGovern, Patten, Pihl