Board requests cost comparisons before approving J.E. Dunn contract
The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education tabled the contractual agreement with construction company J.E. Dunn for work on two projects in the bond package approved in November.
At the board’s December meeting, members voted to negotiate with J.E. Dunn to provide construction management for the projects at Mill Valley High School and the new elementary school at 58th and Belmont streets. J.E. Dunn will be involved with the design phase, responsible for competitive bidding for construction services and contracting the commissioning for both projects.
On Monday, members of the board expressed doubt that the 9.43 percent of total project cost for the new elementary school and the 10.20 percent of total cost for the high school addition were the best possible rates.
Bill Fletcher said the board should have checked with surrounding districts such as Eudora and Gardner before agreeing to negotiate with J.E. Dunn.
Fletcher said he called the Gardner school district and found their most recent project had a total percentage of project costs was 6.5 percent, much lower than what USD 232 had been quoted.
De Soto Superintendent Sharon Zoellner said the latest projects for the district by J.E. Dunn came in much lower than first estimated.
The total budgeted percentage for Horizon Elementary was 9.7 percent, when the project was completed the percentage was 8.28. Mill Creek Middle School had a total budgeted percent of 10.2, when the project was finished the percent came in at 7.92.
Fletcher and fellow Board members Randy Johnson and Tim Blankenship requested the board be given comparisons of other district projects.
Johnson said he would like to see comparisons because he had little faith in the way the board handled these situations in the past.
The district did not ask for requests for proposals for construction manager services from construction firms before agreeing to negotiate with J.E. Dunn at the December meeting. Zoellner said if the board did not make a decision Monday night, it risked putting the projects in jeopardy of not finishing on time.
Board member Janine Gracy said she had confidence in the administration’s dealings with J.E. Dunn.
“This is what we pay the staff for,” she said. “They have done this work so we can sit her and delay the building of schools. We’re micromanaging what they’ve already done.”
Zoellner said she would get more information on comparisons from facilities director Denis Johnson for the board.
The board tabled the issues unanimously. A special meeting is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Jan. 20 to consider the contract agreement.
In other board news:
• The board unanimously approved the purchase of off-lease laptops for the district. With the approval the technology department will purchase 330 off-lease Dell Latitude D610 laptops from CDI Computers. The laptops will come with a three-year parts warranty. The laptops will cost $315 per unit for a total of $103,950 from the technology capital outlay fund.
• The board also approved, in a 6-1 vote, the contract for auditing firm Bogner & Long for the 2008/2009 audit. The total cost of the contract is $8,900, no change from the cost for the 2007/2008 audit. Tim Blankenship was the only member to oppose the contract. Blankenship said the board should seek request for proposals for its auditing serivice.
• Jack Deyoe, director of operations, presented the board with a resolution regarding FEMA grants. Earlier in the fall, the district found it could qualify for FEMA grant money to help with building costs. However, Johnson County and the state of Kansas were not yet qualified for assistance. Deyoe said Johnson County, its municipalities and school districts had been working since early summer to complete steps necessary to apply for the assistance. The county’s hazard mitigation plan was completed in early December and is being considered as part of the overall state hazard mitigation plan. The board was asked to approve a resolution stating that USD 232 would participate in the plans and work to educate and protect students through its role in the hazard mitigation plan. The board voted to accept the resolution.
By accepting the resolution the board is not obligated to apply for FEMA grants but funds could be available as soon as March or April if the county and state plan is adopted as presented.
• The board approved a one-year extension of the superintendent’s contract, with a vote of 5-2. Bill Fletcher and Randy Johnson opposed the proposal, but went on the record to say the opposition vote had nothing to do with the superintendent’s performance, but rather they thought a two-year contract was sufficient, as opposed to a three-year contract. Specific terms and conditions will be determined at a later time.