De Soto board selects architectural firm finalists
Hollis Miller architects may still design the projects in De Soto USD 232's next bond issue, but they will have to show they could do a better job than two other local firms.
On Monday, the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education set a special meeting for Oct. 21 to hear presentations from three architectural firms before selecting one, or perhaps more, to design projects to be built when the district passes its next bond issue.
District officials hope to put the winning architects to work soon after the Nov. 4 $75 million bond referendum. If it passes, the bond issue would finance the expansion of De Soto and Mill Valley high schools and build a new elementary school.
Hollis Miller, who has been the district's architect for the last three bond issues, is one of the three finalists. Joining them are ACI/Frangkisser Hutchens Inc. of Leawood, Kansas City, Mo., and St. Louis and Horst, Terrill and Karst Architects of Topeka and Overland Park.
A committee headed by district facilities director Denis Johnson and consisting of board members Bill Fletcher and Tim Blankenship, De Soto High School Principal Dave Morford, district planning director Jack Deyoe, Clear Creek Elementary School Principal Mike Stithem, and patrons Guy Mallozzi and Cheryl Coonrod selected the finalist.
On Monday, Mallozzi praised the Johnson's preparation in presenting information on the seven firms submitting qualifications to be considered to the committee. As a architectural professional, he said he was dubious before the daylong selection about how thorough the search process would be in a district served so long by the same architect.
Hollis Miller longstanding relationship with the district became an issue in recent school board elections, with committee member Fletcher among those calling for the district to open up the selection process.
Among ACI/Frangkisser Hutchens' clients are the Shawnee Mission and Bonner Springs school district and the Lee Summit, Platt City and Grain Valley districts on the Missouri side.
Among Horst, Terrill and Karst Architects' local school projects are Blue Valley West High School and two elementary schools for that district and a middle school in the Basehor-Linwood district.
Johnson said each firm's representatives would give a 30-minute presentation at the Oct. 21 meeting and would then be open to questions from the board.
Board members would then score each firm, and the district would negotiate a fee arrangement with the highest scoring firm, Johnson said. Should the bond issue pass, the board will have another special meeting Nov. 11 to establish the fee, he said.
If the district and the winning firm can't agree on a fee, the district would start negotiations with the second highest scoring firm, Johnson said.
Blankenship said an appropriate line of questioning could be on the firms' experience in high school expansions and elementary schools. If board members were impressed with one of the firm's handling of high schools while admiring the work of another in elementary schools, they might consider awarding two different contracts, he said.