City Schools of Decatur cancelling construction contract for High School

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt April 2, 2015
The front steps of Decatur High School. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The front steps of Decatur High School. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

City Schools of Decatur is in the process of terminating a contract for a $12 million expansion and renovation of the Decatur High School.

CSD awarded the contract in July of last year, which includes $950,000 in construction management fees.

Superintendent Phyllis Edwards briefed School Board members on the matter in an executive session held April 1.

“The bottom line is we have limited funds and we couldn’t reach an agreement on the price,” Edwards said. “It wasn’t fitting into our price.”

CSD borrowed $18 million using Certificates of Participation money to begin the process of expanding Decatur High and Renfroe Middle in response to increasing enrollment. Edwards was sparse with details about the nature of the cost dispute, in part because the School Board hasn’t completely severed ties with Winter Construction.

“There were some things Winter felt like they could not accept into their responsibility for costs,” Edwards said, adding later, “It was just something, we felt was in the original plans that we had been clear about and they did not feel that was there responsibility.”

She said the changes would’ve increased the cost of the construction by $350,000, but wouldn’t say precisely that the contract would go $350,000 over the $12 million budget for the High School.

“It’s fair to say they did not feel they could meet our project needs within the budget we were requesting,” she said.

Attempts to reach Winter Construction were unsuccessful.

School Board Chairman Garrett Goebel said he wouldn’t be able to comment on the situation.

“I don’t know that I or any of the other board members can comment on that,” he said.

Winter’s contract included hiring Cooper Cary Architects to do the design for the project. Edwards said the School Board will not have to redesign the plans and the new contractor will be able to execute them.

“We don’t want to change anything that’s been approved,” Edwards said. “Once we get into the next phases there still has to be a lot of discussion about how we move forward, if we have a new architect. For now, what we’re asking is we move forward with the Phase 1 plan as approved.”

She said that the School Board will not have to issue another Request for Proposal to find a new contractor. Edwards said CSD will be able to select another bidder who responded to the initial RFP for the High School project.

“We checked with our attorneys,” Edwards said. “We’re able to just go back to that list, instead of re-posting it and making another decision.”

That means there won’t be any significant delays in moving forward with the High School renovations.

“I’m pretty comfortable at this point with the next two firms that are interested,” she said. “Our plan is to be able to bring whichever firm makes the best offer to the School Board hopefully in May. It doesn’t look like we’re going to miss a beat.”

She said it also will not increase the costs of constructing Phase 1.

Winter Construction does not hold the contract for Renfroe Middle. That contract went to Turner Construction.

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