Does School Board really want best building at best price?

We were asked by the superintendent to help get an addition to the school built.I thought he was genuine in his asking and I took the offer seriously. So our goal was to reply with a serious offer by adding a 5- 8 grade addition on to the west side of the high school.After attending one meeting, the only thing discussed was how much money to spend.  There was a drawing so I received a copy and reviewed the drawing. I was amazed at the cost and the wasted space in the drawing.  Taking it upon our selves to reconfigure the building and gym we could save almost 20,000 square feet. At $200 per square foot we were saving the district $4 million.The cost of the Facilities Cost Management Group (FCMG) building that night was $16.8 million.  FCMG's building had 10 class rooms at 900 square feet and 3 rooms at 1,300 square feet. I thought we were supposed to be getting bigger class rooms.Our building had 12 rooms at 1,075 square feet and five rooms at 1,375 square feet. We also put a conference playoff gym next to the existing high school gym entrance.  I took our drawing to a very well-known local contractor and got an estimate.  We were less than $10 million total cost including architect and engineering fees. Everything except for furniture.  And this could be built for NO TAX INCREASE on a 20-year schedule using the nearly $1 million dollars the school gets in one cent sale tax dollars annually.We contacted the Iowa schools facility manager (Gary Schwartz 515-281-4743) about the bidding process and FCMG. Gary can tell you about the latter.NHHS is not following the state code section 26 concerning bidding procedures. Section 26.3 specifically states that all PUBLIC facilities shall send notice to proposed bidders for competitive bids. It has to be Design, Bid then Build.  That means we could have taken a drawing and sent it out with specifics as to number of rooms, kids, dollars limits and construction time frame and received sealed bids to review. Select the low bid, pass a bond for that amount and then hire the architect.I'm sure FCMG would be allowed to bid in this matter and should. IF FCMG is the successful low bid then so be it. It's next to impossible to be the architect and owner representative and still get the lowest bid.  Right now the School Board and superintendent are putting the cart in front of the horse and that is putting the community in a bad situation.  FCMG doesn't have in it's contract that if the school bond would fail that they would be entitled to any fees as "expected profits".  This claim is exactly like the South Tama case as FCMG tried to sue the school after the bond failed for $599,000 to get out of the contract.   I discussed all of this with State Attorney General Marty Quigley (515-281-5926 consumer protection), Susan Kurt (515-281-6414 attorney general investigator) and Gary Schwartz (515-281-4743 Iowa schools facilities manager).  Call them if you would like.  All of them told me the same thing.  Section code 26 is for all public facilities bidding.NHHS isn't following the code and FCMG isn't, either. FCMG cannot "extort" for expected profits and can only claim actual expenses. The only dollar amount in the contract is the $5,000 plus expenses until the bond failed. FCMG and the NHHS cannot follow the old contract after the bond failed.  I replayed all of this information to the school board and now we are getting pushback.This board and superintendent fully support FCMG and not this community. I have found out they only want you help passing a bond for more money than needed.Maybe you should ask your School Board if they signed a new contract with FCMG without getting any other bids? Ask them why they won't consider the offer made by us, the so-called “no people.”We came in $4.5 million less than FCMG lowest bid and we have more class room size. I know none of you building your new house today would only look at one bid or one design before building. I don't think you should do that when building a multi-million dollar school.  Feel free to call me at 641-330-3487.

New Hampton Tribune

10 North Chestnut Ave
New Hampton, IA 50659
Phone: (641) 394-2111
Email: tribune@nhtrib.com

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