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|Board Present:||Fitzgerald A. Barnes, Willie L. Gentry, Jr., Willie L. Harper, Richard A. Havasy, Allen B. Jennings, Eric F. Purcell and Jack T. Wright|
|School Board Present:||Robin L. Horne, Gail O. Proffitt,Sherman T. Shifflett and Gregory V. Strickland|
|School Board Absent:||Harold A. (Hal) Schaffer, Vyvyan A. Powers and Brian M. Huffman|
|Others Present:||C. Lee Lintecum, County Administrator; Ernie McLeod, Deputy County Administrator; Patrick Morgan, County Attorney; Kevin Linhares, Director of Facilities Management; Sherry Vena, Director of Human Resources; Amanda Lloyd, Office Manager, Administration; April Jacobs, Deputy Clerk; Becky Fisher, School Board Clerk; Deborah Pettit, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction; Halsey Green, Director of Finance; Bruno Sestito, Director of Technology; Ralph Moore, Assistant Superintendent for Administration; Bob Moje, Architect for VMDO; and Blair Engle, Barton and Malow Construction Management|
SCHOOL BOARD CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Horne called the February 13, 2007 special meeting of the Louisa County School Board and the Louisa County Board of Supervisors to order at 5:30 p.m.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Wright called the February 13, 2007 special meeting of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors and the Louisa County School Board to order at 5:30 p.m.
On motion of Mr. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Gentry, which carried a vote of 7-0, the Board voted to go into session.
Ms. Horne led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. Wright stated he would like to make some suggestions for ground rules for members to follow during this meeting.
Presentation by the School Board
Ms Horne said the total cost to build the school, at todays cost, is $24,376,284.88. Ms. Horne added the original bid package that was received totaled $25.34 million, but Barton Malow Construction was able to value engineer the cost down by about $1 million, without compromising the educational program for the students.
Ms. Horne said the cost, for construction only of the school, is $163 per square foot. Ms Horne said the State average is $156 per square foot for construction only, which makes the Countys cost $7 over the state average. Ms Horne said the difference between the Countys cost and the States cost is because of the soil at the construction site is shrink/swell soil, which requires additional site work and changes the construction requirements for the foundation.
Ms. Horne said to build a 90,000 square foot building at $156 per square foot would equal $14,040,000 and to build a 90,000 square foot building at $163.38 would cost $14,704,200, which is a total cost difference of about $664,000. Ms. Horne stated when the bids came back, the soil cost increased the budget $800,000. Ms. Horne noted the School Board is within state averages, for the construction cost only, for the new school.
Ms Horne referenced a graph showing the escalation of construction costs for the new elementary schools over time. Ms. Horne said costs continue to rise and inflation is about one percent per month.
Ms. Horne said the Superintendent, and herself, came up with the following options for the new elementary school construction for the Board of Supervisors to choose from. Ms. Horne said she would explain these options and said the options werent in any specific order, some are realistic options and some arent, but she felt all options needed to be considered on how to construct the school.
Ms. Horne explained Option A “Terminate Indefinitely.” Ms. Horne said everyone knows the County needs a new elementary school, but this is an option.
Ms. Horne explained Option B “Cut Full Pod.” Ms. Horne stated this option would cut 250 students with a potential savings of $3 million. Ms. Horne said this option would result in a twelve percent savings of the total cost with a loss of thirty-three percent in student capacity. Ms Horne further added this isnt a cost effective plan, but again, it is an option.
Ms. Horne explained Option C “Terminate all contracts and start at square one.” Ms. Horne noted if this option were chosen, the opening of the school would be delayed until 2010. Ms. Horne further noted it takes three years from the beginning to end to build a school. Ms Horne stated the School Board has legally binding contracts with VMDO, Barton Malow, and C. W. Hurt and in order to break these contracts, it would have to be negotiated and the lawyer would have to be hired. Ms. Horne added this would take time and could potentially cost between $2 million and $4 million. Ms. Horne said this option has to be looked at carefully because thee is no guaranteed savings.
Ms. Horne explained Option D “Re-design and re-bid.” Ms. Horne said time is a huge factor with this. Ms Horne noted the County could stay with Barton Malow, which would makes things go quicker since they already have the plans, the design and knows the needs of the school system. Ms. Horne said if a different architect was decided on, it could take an additional six to nine months. Ms. Horne stated cost is also a factor of this option because there is no guarantee that the school will come in less. Ms. Horne added parameters need to be set for this option and the Board of Supervisors can either chose the number of students and the square footage of the school or the price of the school. Ms Horne added that combining the two has not worked and the Board of Supervisors needs to come up with a number that meets the educational needs of the students and the taxpayers of Louisa County.
Ms. Horne explained Option E “Accept bid and proceed.” Ms. Horne stated this option is self-explanatory.
Ms. Horne stated the current maintenance cost for the school system is 8.3 percent of the School Boards $42 million budget, which is approximately $3.5 million. Ms. Horne said if shortcuts in construction are made now, present cost may be reduced, however, huge maintenance cost could affect future maintenance costs if the quality of the school continues to be cut. Ms. Horne added there is a lot of literature that correlates a good school design with improved learning. Ms. Horne said this is a decision that requires teamwork and the two Boards have to work together because there is a huge need for a new elementary school in the County. Ms. Horne opened the floor for discussion of the options.
Discussion of the new elementary school
Mr. Purcell questioned if soil test were completed when the property was purchased. Ms Horne said the testing was in process but was not completed when the property was bought.
Mr. Gentry questioned $163 per square foot cost and the state average $156 per square foot cost. Mr. Gentry asked why these numbers have changed since the 2006 state average was $139 per square foot.
Ms Horne said $156 per square foot cost is the most accurate and current information. Bob Moje, Architect for VMDO, stated $139 was last years state average and costs have gone up since then.
Mr. Gentry questioned how many schools made up this new state average of $156 per square foot. Mr. Moje said there is no state average for this year yet because there have been no official reports issued for school construction for this year. Mr. Moje said the information compiled by the State is done in September of next year.
Mr. Strickland questioned if the $156 per square foot average is data from the Department of Education or is it data VMDO and Barton Malow have calculated from contacting colleagues.
Mr. Moje said the $156 per square foot average is based on inflation. Ms. Horne said the $156 per square foot average is a guess, whereas, the $139 per square foot average was reality six months ago. Ms. Horne added fourteen schools averaged $139 per square foot, but again these numbers are six months old and cost are continuously rising.
Mr. Strickland stated that prices are up a little from six months ago, but he doesnt think they are up by ten percent. Mr. Strickland added that the $156 per square foot average is a good faith estimate, but it is an estimate.
Mr. Moje stated if last years reported data is looked at, the range in cost per square foot went from about $120 per square foot to $160 per square foot.
Ms. Proffitt questioned if the $156 per square foot was considered an average for this year or would these figures rise in another six months. Mr. Moje said the more schools that are bid, the more information they will have, but trends are continually going up and there is no indication that the cost will go down.
Mr. Gentry asked how the state average for this year was determined. Ms. Horne said the official report is six months old and a percentage of inflation was added to that report, to come up with $156 per square foot being the current state average.
Mr. Gentry questioned how many schools make up the $156 per square foot average. Mr. Moje stated there is no new data for this year. Ms. Horne added that a percentage for inflation for the past six months was added to the original state average.
Mr. Havasy stated $139 per square foot to $163 per square foot is a difference of $2.25 million. Mr. Havasy questioned how every county in Virginia who has built a new school came in at a total construction cost between $14 million and $16 million, with this prices including the site work, but the cost that the School Board is proposing doesnt include site work costs. Mr. Havasy added the public wants to know why Louisa County needs a $25 million school when surrounding counties can build a school for $16 million.
Ms. Horne said one of the major factors in the difference is inflation because those schools were all bid a year ago. Blair Engle, Barton and Malow Construction Management, stated those schools did not include soft cost, such as furniture and fixtures and other equipment that add to the total cost of the project. Mr. Engle added the other schools didnt include the total cost. Ms. Horne noted so many factors arent recorded, such as the soft cost, but everything is included in our total cost.
Mr. Strickland questioned if the School Board is bidding based on inflation for when the school will actually be built or are the bids being submitted based on todays cost. Mr. Engle stated the bids have inflation built into them for when the school is built. Mr. Strickland questioned if inflation was added into the total cost twice because contingency of trade costs is being built into the soft costs. Mr. Engle stated this was included for unanticipated changes that may happen, such as the soil conditions they may encounter, which is standard contingency. Mr. Strickland said it is difficult to understand an inflation rate of ten percent in five months. Mr. Moje stated the state average goes back to 2005 and schools that were built then cost less and are included in the state average.
Mr. Gentry stated in 2006 the average size school was 836 students at a cost of $15 million, but in Louisa Countys case, we are only talking about a school for 700 students, so a more important figure to talk about is to have a smaller school rather than to guesstimate what the future inflation rate will be. Mr. Gentry said over a year ago the Board of Supervisors stated they wanted a school that cost $16 million and have 700 students. Mr. Gentry commented he hasnt seen any justification to go over the $16 million.
Ms. Horne questioned what his option choice would be. Mr. Gentry stated he is still looking for a justification to go over the $16 million. Ms. Horne stated if the Board of Supervisors is only giving $16 million then the option would be Option D “re-design and re-bid.” Ms. Horne added the two Boards are here to talk about the options and how to proceed with the school.
Mr. Strickland stated the state average school, using the numbers from the Department of Education, was between $20 million and $21 million in total costs, including soft costs, and the justification of the $16 million starts with the state average. Mr. Strickland added he was disappointed that the School Board just found out about the soil issues at this point in the process. Mr. Strickland stated if the School Board scraps everything now, including the site, the costs in time and inflation will catch up with the School Board. Mr. Strickland stated he would like to construct a school that would cost $22 million.
Mr. Wright stated he doesnt understand why the other schools that are listed have more students and less space than what Louisa County is looking at. Mr. Wright stated some schools have over 173 more students and over 10,000 square foot less space and questioned why those figures have such a variation and a tremendous amount of difference between the students and the capacity of the school. Ms. Horne stated the total capacity for the new school is about 900 students for the state average, however, Louisa County doesnt like to put thirty to thirty-five students in a classroom. Mr. Strickland added the student to teacher ratio in this County is 20-1. Mr. Moje stated 900 students is the maximum operating capacity for actual students, but there is never the same amount of students every year. Mr. Moje noted the school is built on the actual use pattern versus the actual maximum operating capacity. Mr. Moje further noted there are five classrooms for the preschool level, which arent included in the state averages.
Mr. Purcell stated Option E “Accept bid and proceed” was not an option for him. Mr. Purcell said Ms. Horne said Option C “Terminate all contracts and start at square one” would cost between $2 million and $4 million to consult with the attorneys and questioned what else would be involved with Option C. Ms. Horne said that cost is an estimate of legal fees, what is owed contractors and how much work has already been completed and paid for. Ms. Horne said it is not clear exactly how much the School Board would owe. Mr. Strickland stated the School Board would lose something if another option was chosen but it wouldnt lose the site work that has already been completed. Ms. Horne said the School Board doesnt know what it will lose.
Mr. Purcell stated that the $24 million cost for the new elementary school is fifty-two percent over budget and it bothers him because more new schools are going to need to be built in the future. Mr. Purcell added if the Board of Supervisors budgeted $50 million for a new high school and the School Board accepted bids at $75 million, then that would be almost an entire school over budget. Mr. Purcell noted the public would lose a lot of faith in the Board of Supervisors if Option E “Accept bid and proceed” was chosen and people wouldnt trust the Board of Supervisors when it came time to build another school.
Ms. Proffitt questioned if the School Board back tracts and redoes everything, then wouldnt the bids come back to about the same number since prices arent going down. Mr. Gentry said state averages were used when the Board of Supervisors set the number of students at 700 and the cost at $16 million. Mr. Gentry added there was nothing in the resolution that refers to square footage.
Ms. Horne said the School Board listened to the Board of Supervisors on the design committee, but that is irrelevant at this point because the two Boards have to decide what to do now.
Mr. Shifflett stated the County has to build a school and the longer the project is delayed, the more it will cost. Mr. Shifflett added it is impossible to build a school for $16 million the size the Board of Supervisors wants it.
Mr. Wright said Option B “Cut Full Pod” is not an option because all that is being done is postponing the inevitable and nothing can be resolved with that. Mr. Purcell agreed with Mr. Wright. Mr. Harper stated he wasnt choosing an option. Ms Proffitt questioned if Mr. Harper had a better suggestion for the options.
Mr. Havasy stated the Board of Supervisors directed the School Board to build a $16 million school for 700 students. Mr. Havasy stated there are other options and said if another architect could be used, a school could be built for $16 million. Mr. Havasy noted that once the two Boards make an agreement, it has to be followed and the architects cannot design a school without following the direct direction from the Boards.
Ms. Horne stated the Board of Supervisors voted 7-0 in October for the School Board to go out for bids. Mr. Strickland said the School Board tried to stay within the state averages and he thought they were in good faith in staying under $16 million in December. Mr. Strickland stated he would go with Option D “Re-design and re-bid.” Mr. Strickland added that right now, the School Board is working with VMDO and Barton and Malow, but maybe tomorrow they wont be working with one or both of those companies.
Mr. Purcell questioned if there was a direct correlation with the environment for kindergarten through fifth grade that effects their educational development. Dr. Deborah Pettit, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, said it does affect students, but she could not quote the research.
Mr. Jennings stated he wouldnt want for this new school to be so great that the other elementary schools would be lacking and that wouldnt be fair to the students that attend the other elementary schools in the County. Ms. Horne said not to worry about that issue.
Mr. Jennings stated he has talked with someone that stated there is a contractor in Northern Virginia who would build a school for $16 million but the School Board doesnt want to talk with that person. Ms. Horne said the School Board has documentation on where they have tried to talk with the contractor and he doesnt want to speak with the School Board.
Mr. Jennings added the Board of Supervisors has only qualified the School Board for a budget of $16 million. Ms. Horne said the School Board would be glad to accept $16 million, but the Board of Supervisors cannot chose the size of the school and the number of students.
Ms. Proffitt questioned what would happen when the $16 million school is completed and the school wont accommodate for the population that is coming into the County. Mr. Havasy said this all leads to other bids.
Ms. Horne said the bids are at $16 million for the school but the site work has cost extra money. Mr. Wright said the Board of Supervisors wanted to own the rights to the design of the new elementary school so it could replicate the school throughout the County when the need of additional schools arises. Mr. Wright said that with the current design being so far over budget, it would only lead to the future school being over budget. Ms Horne stated in ten years, the current design for this elementary school might not be appropriate.
Mr. Barnes stated he understand both sides of the issue. Mr. Barnes added the Board of Supervisors can tell the School Board how many student the Board of Supervisors wants in the school and one of the reasons for that is to make sure the kids have enough room. Mr. Barnes said the teachers and staff should be the ones to design the school because they know better than anyone what the school needs. Mr. Barnes said the point right now is that the County needs a functional school and he believes one can be built within budget. Mr. Barnes said clearing the site is the best move the County has made . Mr. Barnes stated he hopes the architect will redesign the school at no cost so that a school can be built. Mr. Barnes added the two Boards need to more forward and get this project completed.
Mr. Wright stated the County needs a traditional building that is safe and can operate functionally that fits the style of Louisa County. Ms. Horne said, as a citizen and a parent, she finds Mr. Wrights statement appalling and questioned why he wouldnt want something nice for youre his children. Ms. Horne added the design is not the problem and once it is redesigned, the cost will still come in high. Mr. Strickland disagreed with Ms. Horne and stated he took Mr. Wrights comments to mean that money is a factor and the County cannot afford to build an award winning school.
Ms. Horne said the School Board would wait for the Board of Supervisors to come up with an option. Mr. Havasy said he wanted everyone to look at what the older generation has contributed to the world today and they were taught in small schools. Mr. Havasy commented that the County doesnt need an award winning school. Mr. Havasy agreed with Mr. Barnes statements and stated he hoped the School Board could get the project redesigned at no cost and to move forward with this plan.
Mr. Gentry stated he would like to know what option the School Board would chose based on the fact that the Board of Supervisors are concerned about the taxpayers. Ms. Horne said the School Board will wait until all of the members are present to discuss an option. Mr. Shifflett further noted that the options are limited on how much money is approved for the school. Ms. Proffitt stated the longer the decision is put off, the more money it will cost to complete. Ms. Horne thanked the Board of Supervisors for meeting with the School Board to discuss this issue.
SCHOOL BOARD ADJOURNMENT
Ms. Horne asked if there were any objections from the members of the School Board to adjourn the meeting. There were no objections and Ms. Horne adjourned the February 13, 2007 joint meeting at 6:39 p.m.
On motion of Mr. Barnes, seconded by Mr. Purcell, which carried by a vote of 7-0, the Board voted to adjourn the February 13, 2007 joint meeting at 6:39 p.m.
BY ORDER OF
JACKSON T. WRIGHT, CHAIRMAN
LOUISA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
LOUISA COUNTY, LOUISA, VIRGINIA