03/25/14 — School board OKs contract

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School board OKs contract

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 25, 2014 1:46 PM

At a special called meeting Monday afternoon, the Wayne County Board of Education approved a contract with Moseley Architects of Morrisville to proceed on renovations and small projects at five district schools.

The school board had announced in October its decision to hire two architects for pending projects that will be partially funded by lottery and sales tax money.

Moseley was chosen to handle the $12 million in proposed renovation projects. The projects include $1.9 million earmarked for the central attendance area and includes new student commons area at Goldsboro High School and air conditioning gymnasiums at Dillard Middle and Carver Heights Elementary schools. The budget also includes $3.9 million for 12 classroom additions at Spring Creek Elementary and $6.6 million for the addition of 20 classroom and renovations to the cafeteria and administrative office and classroom additions at Charles B. Aycock High.

The other firm, SfL+a, will be responsible for building two new middle schools at Grantham and Spring Creek, at a $35.3 million price tag.

The bulk of the discussion at the hourlong meeting centered around concerns over nearly $45,000 in design fees for the air conditioning at the two schools.

The project budget to outfit Dillard and Carver Heights with air-conditioned gyms totals $500,000. Design fees on the projects, though, was an additional $22,500 each.

Board member Chris West questioned the amount, suggesting it had not been represented that way when the architect made its original pitch for the job.

"Maybe it's a total misunderstanding from the presentation itself but we were never at the fee that he wound up sending us to start with when he presented it," he said.

Board member Arnold Flowers said the issue had been raised during a committee meeting and the presentation and bid had been based upon the firm being selected to do "the whole scope of projects" and not just the renovations.

"When we separated this into smaller projects, then that was his justification for a large fee," Flowers said, adding, "They told us when we were talking to them that the renovations would be more than the new construction because it was more complicated. Obviously, you're building new attached to old.

"When you start tearing out and building back, it is more complicated."

Board member Eddie Radford asked what the district receives for that $22,500. Board Chairman John Grantham explained the fee was for the design and drawings for the gym, which would be required no matter who did the job.

West still had some concerns.

"Unless it's a misunderstanding on my part. Ms. (Nan) Barwick (finance officer for the district), you were there, (Superintendent) Dr. (Steve) Taylor, you were there. When they presented it to us, that's the fee they sent us and they never said 'in hopes of,'" he said. "I never heard that come out of their mouth and I like Moseley. I think they'll do a good job. But it is what it is and it is what he presented that day and that wasn't what he sent us.

"He never at one time put the verbiage in there. That wasn't part of the conversation. Maybe I didn't hear it."

West said he believed the board had asked specific questions about what the fee was going to be and the answer it heard then differed from what had since been communicated.

"He never said, one eraser or one pair of whatever, nothing. It was a flat fee," he said. "But because he didn't get the whole scope of all of it, all of a sudden his fee is a lot more."

Flowers said during the time when the board interviewed seven architectural firms for the jobs, all had presented their bids at the full price it would cost for all the projects. Only later, he said, were the projects separated out.

"Maybe we should have been more specific when we asked," West said, adding that his intent was to save the district money, not be argumentative or delay the projects.

Grantham said his personal opinion was that the board had chosen "two good architects" for the upcoming projects, but if the board felt it needed more time to study the proposal or even go back and look at some more architects, it could do so.

West said he did not feel that was necessary.

"That's my mindset," Flowers agreed. "And we asked for it like this. That's the way we did it. And then the (facilities) committee, we negotiated him down to where he's at now in committee. Now it's here before the full board to vote on it. So if we're going to make a change, now's the time to make a change."

"I guess in the future we probably need to clarify that in the presentation," West said, suggesting a more specific discussion in getting a price breakdown, especially should the project make-up change.

Grantham said the board had to decide whether to vote on it now or table it for further review and discussion.

Flowers made a motion to approve the contract. Radford seconded it, and the board unanimously passed it.

"I don't know if it's the absolute best deal," Flowers said afterward. "I think it's an adequate deal. I think it's a fair deal. I think we'll end up happy with it.

"It's my understanding that that's all Moseley does is K-12 (schools) so they don't want to mess up their reputation."

"I think so, too," Grantham said. "I think the committee did a good job picking the contractors or the architects to interview. I think they'll do a good job."