Avon Grove Taxpayers for Responsible Spending

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        Citizens, Parents, and Schools working together to bring Avon Grove into the 21st Century!

Special School Board Meeting

School Board Votes (5 to 4) to Authorize Contract for

Construction Management Firm

Without Seeing Contract!

June 26, 2018

The School Board met on Tuesday, June 26th for a special school board meeting to discuss the contract being negotiated with D’Huy Engineering, the construction management firm being considered by the School Administration.  School Board members include: Ms Tracy Lisi (Chair), Mr John Auerbach, Mr Charles Beatty, Mr Jeff Billig, Mr Rick Dumont, Mr Herman Engel, Ms Lynn Weber, Mr Bill Wood, and Ms Bonnie Wolff.  All were present for the meeting.

A motion was made by Ms Wolff and seconded by Mr Wood to authorize the approval of a contract with D’Huy Engineering as the construction management firm for the new high school and renovation of the current high school.  This is the resolution from the agenda
http://www.boarddocs.com/pa/avongrove/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AZYQWW61B807.  Based on the comments from the board they had not seen the actual multi-million dollar contract at the time of the vote.  Mr. Auerbach questioned how he could be expected to authorize the approval of a contract that he has not had time to read.  He stated that he wants to understand the terms of the contract – especially what happens if things don’t go right.  Mr Beatty and Ms Weber expressed similar concerns. 

Ms Lisi questioned why Mr Auerbach, Mr Beatty, and Ms Weber think they are more qualified to review a contract than the administration.  Ms Weber asked why the school board couldn’t be given adequate time to review the contract for a discussion at the next school board meeting.  Superintendent Marchese did not directly answer Ms Weber’s question but instead stated that if she was not happy with the process she should vote against the motion.  Mr. Billig expressed frustration over why some board members routinely question the Administration and raise concerns stating that he did not actually need to see the contract he was approving.  Ms Lisi then called for a vote without addressing the concerns expressed by Mr Auerbach, Mr Beatty, and Ms Weber.  AGTRS

The vote for the resolution to authorize the approval of the contract passed 5-4:

Billig, Engel, Lisi, Wolff, Wood – yes

Auerbach, Beatty, Dumont, Weber – no

The conduct of this meeting could provide an indication of how future discussions regarding the building of the new facilities will take place.  The administration appears to want total control on each decision made including the content of contracts with those involved in the project.  Four of the school board members would like to receive background information in a timely manner so that they can make an informed decision when they vote.  The five other members of the board seem to be comfortable with letting the administration take the lead in decisions that will cost the residents millions of dollars.  Residents need to decide with which approach they are more comfortable. 

Another Special School Board meeting will take place on July 9th in the Audion to approve an architectural firms contract
to design the building.  It is possible a majority of the board will again choose to authorize a major contract without knowing any details of what is being approved. 



Committee of the Whole*
June 5, 2018

Facilities

The School Board met to interview four architectural firms for the new high school and renovated middle school projects. School Board members include: Ms Tracy Lisi (Chair), Mr John Auerbach, Mr Charles Beatty, Mr Jeff  Billig, Mr Rick Dumont, Mr Herman Engel, Ms Lynn Weber, Mr Bill Wood, and Ms Bonnie Wolff.   All were present for the discussion.

The following firms were interviewed:
Firm of KCBA Architects
Firm of Gilbert Architects, Inc
Firm of Schrader Group
Firm of Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects

Firm of KCBA Architects
KCBA Architects is the same firm that designed the Avon Grove Intermediate School building.  They are familiar with the Sunnyside site; they worked with the school district to buy the site.  They have experience with high school projects as well as designing colleges and university buildings.  They have worked with D’Huy Engineering as the construction management firm.


They showed a potential design of a new high school.  It contained flexible and collaborative space with a focus on STEM as well as 2 courtyards with trees and plants.  The building had lots of glass that opened the rooms to natural light.   
 
Firm of Gilbert Architects, Inc
Gilbert Architects conducted the feasibility study for the Facilities Input Group (FIG).  They were also responsible for the installation of the modular classrooms for Full Day Kindergarten. They have built 6 new high schools as well as the STEM addition to Abington high school.

The design presented by Gilbert included a 3 level building with gable roofs and dormers to conceal HVAC equipment.   Gilbert is currently managing the building of 4 projects.  The design team is available to work on this project.  Their proposed completion date for the new high school is September 2021.

Firm of Schrader Group
The Schrader Group stated that they want to design a school for the students of tomorrow – not traditional classrooms.  They want to share as much space as possible, e.g. multiple uses for cafeteria space.  The Schrader Group described their process for designing a building; it starts with a workshop to gather input from teachers, students, and the community. They seem to understand the constraints of the Sunnyside site and believe they can use the outside environment for outside learning.
They view themselves as reliable and loyal to their clients. 

Firm of Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects

Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects have completed several projects with the IU and have completed 35 major high school projects.  They demonstrated their ability to create 3D/4D/5D models which allows the client to visualize how the new school will look.  You can experience a virtual walk through of the school as you “try-out” different designs. 

Middle School Discussion

Each of the 4 architects focused their presentation on the new high school.  No ideas were presented regarding the renovation of the current high school to a middle school.  Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects questioned the amount of money budgeted for the new high school and renovated middle school. 

High school – budgeted at $239 per sq ft; expected range is $245 to $270 per sq ft
Middle school – budgeted at $100 per sq ft; expected range is $150 to $200 per sq ft
They suggested building a smaller high school in order to have sufficient money for the middle school renovation.  

Another Special School Board meeting regarding facilities will take place on July 9th in the Audion.



*Call to Action
It is important that your position on increasing taxes and the construction cost of building new school facilities is heard. It is critical that community members attend upcoming school board meetings and/or send letters via e-mail to the school board and administration to make their position known. The District Calendar can be found
here.   Watch the district calendar for updates.  Information about the board, including E-mail addresses, can be found
here.

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