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The Marion County Area Technology Center renovation/addition project is expected to be complete by May 15, and the Marion County Board of Education got a tour of the facility during its regular monthly meeting last week.
The project includes the renovation of 37,000 square feet of the existing building, together with a full mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrade, as well as window replacements and ADA upgrades. It also includes an additional 15,000 square feet of classroom and lab space, as well as restrooms, to the facility. The total project cost is approximately $6 million.
According to Principal Laura Arnold, the additional four classrooms plus the construction lab and classroom in the new addition provide for daytime industry training.
"We're very proud of this school and feel that we can offer students opportunities with the new space that we have," she said.
However, there have been some problems that have arisen during the scope of the project, and several of those issues were discussed at length during last week's board meeting.
George Birk, of Ross-Tarrant Architects, reported that Spray Tech will be correcting a leak where the new roof meets the old, and Green River Glass will be correcting leakage in the front lobby.
Board member Bernard Miles expressed his displeasure with the report of a leaky roof.
"We sure don't need a facility like this with a leaky roof..." he said.
In addition to the leaky roof, it was discovered that there were several electrical and mechanical items identified as incomplete, requiring additional work.
After accepting bids for the additional electrical and mechanical work, Ross-Tarrant determined Morgeson Electric Heating & AC submitted the lowest bid to complete the work at $9,873 (electrical) and $10,521 (mechanical). The total cost of all the additional changes is $20,394. However, Birk said the design team at Ross-Tarrant plans to contribute toward the cost of the changes, and provide 50 percent or $10,197 to the Marion County Board of Education.
According to Miles, the board shouldn't have to pay a penny for any of the additional work.
"I'm totally against any change orders," he said. "I think this building needs to be finished out. In my opinion, if Ross-Tarrant doesn't see that that happens, I think it's time we look for new architects."
Miles said the board shouldn't be using its contingency funds for Ross-Tarrant's mistakes.
"The contingency is put in place for unforeseen conditions within the scope of a particular project," Birk said.
But, Miles continued to disagree.
"I think we've had enough change orders," he said. "I think it's time somebody else ate the bill instead of us."
However, according to Birk, change orders are unfortunate realities, especially with complex renovation work.
"I think we've ate our share," Miles said. "I think it's time somebody else ate their share."
Birk said Ross-Tarrant was paying for 50 percent of the cost of the additional work as a gesture of goodwill and to maintain what he believed to be a healthy relationship between Ross-Tarrant and the Marion County Public School System. But, Miles continued to protest.
"We're getting back in the old habit of every time we turn around there's a change order," he said. "You tell me you're going to build me a house for $200,000, that's what I expect... it's as simple as that."
Board member DeLane Pinkston said, while he agreed with Miles on the change order issue, he still believed that Ross-Tarrant had done an excellent job overall.
Board Chairman Michael Mullins said, at first, he also shared Miles' opinion. But, after learning more about the situation, he understands and is in favor of proceeding with the additional work.
"I understand that we want to get as much bang for our buck as we can," Mullins said. "But, I also understand that in any project, it doesn't make a difference how small or how large and how good we are at what we do, people make mistakes. So, I think the best thing for us is to get through the mistakes the best that we can.
Mullins also commended Ross-Tarrant for offering to pay for half of the additional costs.
"I know you don't have to do that," he said.
When it came time for the board to approve paying Morgeson Electric Heating & Air Conditioning $4,936.50 for miscellaneous electrical upgrades to the tech center and $5,360.50 for mechanical upgrades, all board members voted yes except Miles.
NEW ENGINEERING INSTRUCTOR
The Marion County Board of Education officially met the tech center's newly hired engineer Allen Browning during last week's board meeting.
Browning is a native of Marion County, and has a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Louisville.
Browning gave a power point presentation on the engineering program. He's currently working with faculty and administration to introduce activities designed to tie together programs in several areas, including CADD (Computer Aided Design and Drafting), machine tool technology, industrial maintenance, automotive technology, Project Lead the Way and welding technology and construction technology.
The first project he's going to do with students is a carpentry practicum. The tech center is going to purchase $25,000 worth of equipment from Maewood Cabinets in Lebanon for the carpentry class.
SECTION SEVEN REQUESTS
Last week, each school made a plea to the board to grant them specific requests funded by Section 7 funds, which are monies that the board has total discretion over. The board takes school council requests and tries to honor those requests but it can use that money however it pleases in the schools. It's a matter of how much money is available.
The board was able to maintain current staffing at all schools except for St. Charles Middle, which will lose one teacher. The reduction in staff is based on St. Charles' drop in enrollment. According to Principal John Brady, St. Charles' enrollment for this year is 322 and the 2011-12 enrollment projection is approximately 290.
Brady said the school will most likely lose one of its reading teachers.
"We would like to maintain our current staffing in order to increase our focus on reading," he said. "Losing this position plus a special education teacher position will make it more difficult to meet NCLB (No Child Left Behind) accountability."
IN OTHER MATTERS, BOARD MEMBERS:
- Approved pay application No. 2 to Melson Roofing Co., Inc. in the amount of $103,599 for the Glasscock Elementary School's partial roof replacement project. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
- Approved the district's facilities plan, which includes $29 million of unmet needs for Marion County school facilities.