Change orders stacking up on school construction
Jan 12, 2013 (Florida Keys Keynoter - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The Monroe County School Board may have to ratify change orders that were already approved by School District administrators but not in compliance with board policy.
That's according to board attorney Dirk Smits, who reported at the School Board's meeting Tuesday at Coral Shore High School that there have been 71 change orders related to the $38.6 million reconstruction of Horace O'Bryant Middle School in Key West.
Board member Ed Davidson called for the change-order review shortly after his election in November.
Generally, changes or contract amendments in excess of $25,000 go to the board for approval. Below that threshold, Superintendent Mark Porter can act unilaterally but is required to submit the changes at a board meeting to maintain the public record.
Smits described five HOB change orders exceeding the $25,000 threshold and not put to the board, noting, "Those, it is my opinion, that need to be ratified or fixed by the board."
There are two other related to contract amendments with builder Coastal Construction that "may need board approval," Smits said.
"Why didn't anybody know this before " board member John Dick asked Smits.
"I don't know the answer to that," Smits said. "What's normal for a construction company to do often doesn't comport with what government wants. These things need to be audited."
Davidson said he wanted to get in front of the change-order analysis because the project is five months from completion.
"The reason I'm being adamant about this," he said, "is I don't think we should wait to the end. The stuff we have questions on now, staff should get to work on now."
In the Horace O'Bryant case, Davidson focused on a change order for Coastal Construction that would reduce the cost of the rebuild by $608,755 due to a reduction in the scope of the work.
Of that, 60 percent of the savings would be on the district's ledger and the rest would be savings to Coastal. Porter approved the change, but not the disbursement, with the rationale that although the number exceeds $25,000, it was a reduction, not an increase.
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