Board OK’s Architect for Classroom Construction

Projects Not in District’s Budget

WINNSBORO (Jan. 29, 2016) – During the Fairfield County School Board’s Jan. 19 regular meeting, Dr. J.R. Green, Superintendent, asked the Board to award a contract to the architectural firm, FW Architects of Florence, for engineering and design work for an expansion of Kelly Miller Elementary and Fairfield Middle schools so the portable classrooms can be removed.

While the projects had not been budgeted, Green told the Board he planned to pay for them with the $2.5 million transfer of funds from the general fund to capital projects fund that he asked the Board to approve in October.

“We have portables in the Middle School . . . and Kelly Miller Elementary School that I would like to see replaced,” Green told the Board. “Before we can go forward in terms of assessing what the ultimate cost of these projects would be, we need to bring an architect on board.”

Green said he appointed a committee to bid out the project. That committee, he said, recommended FW Architects of Florence.

“Is there any reason why this wasn’t brought up ahead of time, that you were pursuing these bids?” Board member Paula Hartman (District 2) asked.

Green replied that he wasn’t sure what he had told the board, but that he “thought it was clear that we would have to bring in some architects and establish some designs in order to determine what the costs would be.”

However, in a recording of the Oct. 20 meeting, Green made no mention to the Board that he planned to begin the bid process for an architect for the renovations. He only mentioned the need for renovations of the two schools in order to replace the portable classrooms, “a couple of new activity buses . . . we need to refresh some Chromebooks . . .and we have an issue with the cooling tower at the high school and I think we’ll eventually have to replace it.”

Green’s committee has, in fact, been pursuing an architectural firm for the school renovation project for at least the past two months. An invitation for bids was published Nov. 24 in South Carolina Business Opportunities (SCBO), seeking an architect and engineering services for “classroom additions for elementary and middle schools.” The deadline for submission of resumes to the School District was Dec. 17, 2015.

“What we are talking about today is getting designs for what you are looking at doing at Kelly Miller and the Middle School,” Board member William Frick (District 6) said. “To avoid any further confusion, are there any other projects you are anticipating?”

“Maybe a field house addition at the football field,” Green answered. “Other than that, no other renovations to facilities are anticipated.”

Board member Annie McDaniel (District 4) asked Green if the issues at the high school had been taken care of.

“I did identify the cooling tower at the high school. I did identify technology enhancement,” Green responded. “But before we are in a position where I can bring a comprehensive list before the Board, I have to get an idea on what the cost of these major projects would be. That doesn’t preclude us from pursuing anything else.”
If the costs are too high, Green continued, the District may not move forward with the school renovations.

“The issue is that you did not bring back before the Board a list of projects you were going to do. It’s not about whether they are needed. The issue is following protocol,” McDaniel said.

Hartman clarified that previously, when major projects such as the Career and Technology Center were initiated, the Board was much more involved in the selection process for the architects.

Green said this project (classroom construction) was much more limited, so the Board was not involved.

“Once we get these designs and you are able to prioritize, will you provide us a list of the capital projects you are looking to do?” Frick asked. Green said he would.

The Board voted 5-2 to award the contract to FW Architects of Florence, with Hartman voting against and McDaniel abstaining. Other than Frick, none of the Board members who voted to award the contract had any questions or comments about the process or the architectural firm.