Board Spars Over New Career Center

WINNSBORO – The Fairfield County School Board agreed, albeit with some dissention, on a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) and a construction firm for the new Career and Technology Center during their May 20 meeting. On a 4-2 vote, the Board approved a GMP of $17,710,982, awarding the contract to M.B. Kahn. Board members Annie McDaniel (District 4) and Paula Hartman (District 2) voted against. Board member Andrea Harrison (District 1) was absent.

McDaniel noted the $940,425 architectural fee in the contract, and asked if that price was also firm.

“That’s assuming we don’t come back and make significant changes to the scope of the project,” J.R. Green, Superintendent, said. “If we get into making a bunch of changes, then that will change.”

Hartman said that the Board had not yet been provided with a final list of classes and programs to be included in the new facility. Once that list has been finalized, she asked if it might require a change in the final price. Green said that it would not, and told the Board that the new facility had been designed with a certain amount of flexible space that could be used to accommodate different types of programs.

“So we’re being asked to approve a contract, approve a guaranteed maximum price . . . but we don’t know what’s going to be in the Career Center?” McDaniel said “There are some classes that if they weren’t part of the design they would cause infrastructure changes.”

Green reiterated that no classes would be added that would require any infrastructure changes, but Hartman continued, asking about the placement of electrical outlets in classrooms. McDaniel, addressing her question to Robert P. Roof, the District’s Project Manager for the construction of the Career Center, asked if not knowing what the classes were at this point presented any specific challenges.

“The original program for this project was followed by Brownstone, the architect, to program space into the facility,” Roof said. “They allotted certain areas that are required by code, by educational standards to cover all the programs that they have. This facility has, as Mr. Green said, flex-space in it to take care of any other programs that may be added. That flexibility has been built into this design due to the excellent work of the architect to take care of any changes like that.”

When McDaniel pressed Green for a final list of classes, Green said he could have provided a partial list to the Board already, but chose not to do so. A final, comprehensive list, he said, would be better.

“My big concern, Mr. Green, is I have talked to people who are experts in this field,” McDaniel said, “and they think it is ludicrous that at this point we are breaking ground on June 2 and we voted on maximum price and this Board has not been told what is going to be in that Career Center.”

Board member Bobby Cunningham (District 5) had apparently heard enough and asked Chairwoman Beth Reid (District 7) to bring the matter to a vote.

“From day one, everybody on the Board has been told that these things would be flexible, that some classes could be changed,” Cunningham said. “From day one. It has been out here from day one, and we’re going to beat this poor dern horse to death with the same thing every time. I call for the question, Madam Chair.”

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