Archive for Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Consultant could collect $3.9 million

December 10, 2002


The Lawrence school district's facility consultant could earn as much as $3.9 million if voters approve a $59 million bond issue for school construction.

DLR Group, the Overland Park company hired by the district to create and put in place a facility master plan, is operating on a contingency contract that would pay the firm from $2.5 million to $3.9 million for program and construction management services tied to proposed bond-issue projects.

"It's a lot of money," said Scott Morgan, board president. "If we're going to have buildings done professionally and safely, we're going to spend a considerable amount of money."

Vice President Austin Turney said: "That's well within the range of what would normally be charged by any firm."

Voters go to the polls April 1 to decide the bond issue's fate.

They'll be asked to pay off 20-year bonds to finance replacement of South Junior High School; expansion of Lawrence Alternative High School, New York and Cordley elementary schools; renovation of Lawrence High School; and improvements at other schools.

Construction would coincide with closure of Centennial and East Heights schools. Riverside School will be shut down in May.

Too expensive?

Bob Blank, who opposes school consolidation and the bond issue, said the district's association with DLR Group was proving to be too expensive for the community.

"I haven't talked to anybody who is going to vote for this," he said.

DLR Group's preliminary estimate put its fee range at 4.2 percent to 6.6 percent of the bond issue.

A final calculation won't be made until the school board makes decisions about phasing construction projects.

"We're hoping to get that all ironed out in January," said Brad Kiehl, an associate with DLR Group.

Kiehl said DLR Group budgeted $1.7 million, or 2.9 percent, for "construction" management fees on the $59 million bond issue.

That's a smaller percentage than what was paid to Universal Construction Co. for construction management on the district's previous bond issue, he said.

"We're going to be as efficient as we can," Kiehl said.

1998 bond issue

In 1998, the district's voters passed a $16.6 million bond issue to build Langston Hughes School and make additions to Prairie Park, Pinckney and Woodlawn schools.

The district paid Universal $571,000, or 3.4 percent, of the bond issue for construction management services.

Traditionally, the district has relied on its own staff to handle "program" management duties. This is preconstruction work intended to make certain architectural and engineering plans for schools mirror the board's educational goals.

"We have paid a price in this district in the past by having people with education degrees do that," Morgan said.

He said hiring DLR Group, with a staff of architects and engineers, to be responsible for both program and construction management duties should bring consistency to the design and construction of the bond projects.

Under the existing contingency contract between DLR Group and the district, fees associated with the bond-issue projects wouldn't be paid to DLR Group if the bond issue failed three times.

DLR Group has gained approval of 86 percent of its school bond issues on the first try.

Local architecture firms will have an opportunity to submit proposals for all school construction or renovation in accordance with local custom.

On April 1, Lawrence voters will decide the fate of a $59 million school bond issue. Projects included in the proposal are:

¢ Elementary schools: $12.8 million. This includes $9.2 million to expand Cordley and New York schools to handle students from Centennial and East Heights schools, which would be closed along with Riverside School. Improvements to Broken Arrow, Deerfield, Hillcrest, Quail Run, Sunset Hill and Wakarusa Valley schools would cost $3.6 million.

¢ Junior high schools: $30.2 million. This includes $21.2 million for a new South Junior High School and $9 million for renovation of classrooms at Central and West junior high schools and additions at Southwest Junior High School.

¢ High schools: $15.7 million. This sets aside $8.9 million to renovate Lawrence High School and $6.8 million to expand Lawrence Alternative High School.

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