Chat with Lawrence Schools Facilities and Operations Director Tom Bracciano

October 10, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Tom Bracciano will be in to chat about ongoing construction at the new South Junior High, plus demolition of the South old building and other facilities projects at Lawrence schools.


Good afternoon. This is your moderator Cody Howard. Our thanks to Tom Bracciano for joining us today.

Tom Bracciano:

Hi Cody - Thanks for inviting me. Hope the spell ck is working this time.


Thanks for taking my question and good afternoon. I am curious Tom, Doesn't the school district have paid, crafts-person's such as carpenters, masons, electricians, and painters? If these folks are paid staff, why are the building falling into such disrepair? Maybe I am wrong and the school dist. doesn't have these folks on staff, if not could you please set me right? Thanks, Of course if they are on staff, and the buildings are falling apart, maybe we could save the taxpayers a couple of million per year by cutting the dead weight and remove them.

Tom Bracciano:

Good question - we do have many fine trades people on staff. They work daily to repair plumbing electrical, carpentry etc. that breaks on a daily basis. This repair work keeps them busy and there is more than they can ever catch up with.

When you talk about the kinds of infrastucture repairs we need new HVAC systems, building replumbing, additions, new parking lots, etc. these people don't have time to handle them. In addition most of this work needs to be done when schools out and we just don't have enough people.

I'd love to have my own construction crew on payroll. But this would be a waste of the taxpayers money. The people on payroll keep the toilets flushing and the ovens cookin' not building new schools.


In regard to South Junior High, and the small portion of that project that remains unfinished, much of that has been attributed to weather delays. We've had several inquiries about what constitutes a weather delay and how those are managed.

Tom Bracciano:

Weather delays are specifically defined in the AIA agreements that the district has with the contractors and architects. I've seen somne of the comments and it has occurred to me that some forget this project has been going on for 2 years. We've had a little rain during that period. It's not just this summer that counts for rain days. I remember a pretty wet spring, Noah and all that, eh?

In reality the project has moved extremely fast, was an agressive timeline, was under budget, got the kids out of a building that quite honestly I couldn't guarantee would have A/C this fall or heat this winter.

The staff parents and kids have been inconvenienced. Yes. The choice was inconvenience or do nothing and stay in the old SJHS. We have made construction decisions to minimize the inconvenience and that actually delayed the project. This was done for the students. Everything comes back to doing what is best for the kids.

Time to get off the soap box. Next.


I was surprised when the South principal said in today's article that school officials knew all along that there would be a delay -- why did they keep telling parents school would start on time until THE DAY BEFORE?

Tom Bracciano:

I don't want to speak for the principal at SJHS. Will has done a great job accomodating staff and students. I will tell you that I have said all along that SJHS would not be finished by the time school started. Our goal was to get enough classrooms for the school to function as an educational environment that worked for the students. We missed that target by 2 days.

We really came down to the the casework in 3 science rooms holding up starting school on time.

I tell ya punk, alot of district people (one's mentioned in the first question worked nights and weekends to start that school on time).


What happened to custodians who had pride and went the extra "mile" as the saying goes? Why was Kennedy school not painted outside last summer. It appears that the district wants it in disrepair, not to mention the unsightly fence around Central. It looks truly like a ghetto school. What about the unpainted original basement doors. Millions of dollars in a bond issue and no paint?

Tom Bracciano:

Hawk - I worked my way through college as the head custodian at Grant Elementary School in good 'ole 497. I'm proud of all the F&O and district staff. Couldn't be prouder of those who go the extra mile. We've raised wages and increased training but still have a ways to go.

The list of maintenance and improvements is large and not limited to Kennedy and CJHS. We've spent millions and millions of dollars on CJHS. It's a great old building and deserves to be maintained. but there are so many other needs that we have to say that's enough for this year and let's come back next. I really would like to once finish a building off and tell the staff we're not comin' back for 5 years. Won't ever happen unless it's brand new and then we'll still have stuff breakin for the evryday maintenance folks to fix.


When will the badly needed classrooms at Broken Arrow be finished? What measures are you taking to monitor air-borne debris from the demolition of old south

Tom Bracciano:

Punk - the classrooms are finished. The art room and office will be done late November early December. We have worked with the contractor on minimizing airborne debris from the demolition site. KDHE has been out and viewed the demolition site. All asbestos and hazardous materials were removed prior to demolition.


Now that the district is more or less done with the bond projects approved in 2005, what's next on the horizon from a facilities standpoint?


That wraps up today's chat. Our thanks to Tom for joining us today.

Tom Bracciano:

Firstly............. is that a word?............ we will be diving into the high school outdoor facility issue on October 22. This is something that needs to be addressed from a safety, equity and quality issue. Equity not just from school to school but I beleive from sport to sport.

Then in November we will tackle elementary needs. We need to replace water lines, hvac systems, parking lots and $20 million or so of needs. The problem limited funds and unlimited needs. The painting of Kennedy is actually on the list for elementary schools. Limited money, limited time, unlimited optimism. Lawrence Public Schools are truly the best.


Sorry, got out of order there...Thanks Tom.

Tom Bracciano:

Cody - thanks for having me here. Next time don't tell me its for one on one trivia. I'll come anyway


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