Construction services contract awarded on split vote
Over the objection of three of its members, the De Soto USD 232’s Board of Education approved the contractual agreement with J.E. Dunn to manage the construction of the first two projects to be paid for by the bond issue district voters approved last November.
The decision was made at a special meeting Tuesday morning to contract the firm to guide construction of a new elementary school at 58th and Belmont and the expansion on Mill Valley High School.
The special meeting was called after the board tabled the contract agreement at its Jan. 5 meeting. At that meeting, members of the board expressed doubt that Dunn’s construction management charges — 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.
At that earlier January meeting, board members asked the staff to gather information comparing surrounding districts’ costs for recent construction projects.
At the board’s December meeting, members voted to negotiate with J.E. Dunn to provide construction management for the projects at Mill Valley and the new elementary school. 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 Tuesday, USD 232 Superintendent Sharon Zoellner told the board that the Eudora School District did not return calls for the request, Basheor-Linwood did not use a construction manager, and the Gardner school district’s project was bid on the total cost of each project, not just hard construction costs — making it difficult to compare.
The Shawnee Mission School District recently received construction management bids on two projects and the percentage came in at about 7 percent, according to information provided by Zoellner.
In a staff report to the board about the construction management research, it was noted the district requires “reimbursables.” In that arrangement, the district only pays for what it actually uses, which is why in the past costs have come in lower than those initially quoted.
The total budgeted percentage for Horizon Elementary was 9.7 percent, but the actual percentage on the completed project was 8.28. Mill Creek Middle School had a total budgeted percent of 10.2, but when the project was finished the percent came in at 7.92.
Zoellner said comparing the information would not be fair to either company since the Gardner projects differs from USD 232’s projects.
Board member Bill Fletcher said going a different construction manager could save the district about $1 million. And Board member Tim Blankenship said the board ought to be able to get a better price.
Zoellner said that because no request for proposal was put out, the board could not make comparisons for other construction management company.
Board member Jim Thomas said he trusted the staff’s decisions and effort to get information on comparisons.
“I’ve never heard anyone complain about these things; they put a lot of faith in these things. JE Dunn is a very well respected firm. I don’t have any problems with it,” he said.
Don Clark said he would hate to bring another construction management team in to Mill Valley because JE Dunn already has a working knowledge of the building and any problems that could occur.
Randy Johnson agreed with Blankenship and Fletcher that the district could do more for taxpayers.
“I do not feel like we have given the taxpayers what they have paid for,” Johnson said.
Johnson made a motion to take fees back to the negotiation table, as they are unacceptable.
The motion failed in a vote of 4-3.
Thomas then motioned to approve the fees for the two projects. The motion passed with the same 4-3 split. It was noted that the board would discuss taking future projects, such as the expansion to De Soto High School to bid at the board’s February meeting.
The board meets next at 6 p.m. Feb. 2 at the District Administration Building, 35200 W. 91st St.