Gordon County BOE unanimously rejects $226k bid for new GCHS press box
The Gordon County Board of Education unanimously agreed that $226k was too much to spend on a new press box at Gordon Central High School, with Board member Eddie Hall suggesting that more Board insight and input into the front end of these types of projects could save the system both time and money
The seven members of the Gordon County Board of Education voted unanimously to reject a proposal for building a new press box at Gordon Central High School, a planned capital outlay project, at their Monday night meeting, but Board members disagreed on how much insight the Board should give to projects of this nature.
Six of the seven members were physically present for the meeting, with member Kacee Smith participating by speakerphone.
According to Gordon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Fraker, the project for a new press box for Gordon Central was put out for RFP, but only one bid packet was turned in for the project which came over the $186,000 budgeted for the project.
“One bid came in at $226,740. This was over what we had allotted in the budget,” said Fraker. “So my recommendation is to reject this bid and continue to research our options for the press box.”
While Board member Eddie Hall agreed to reject the bid, he did open up the floor for discussion on the way projects are planned and handled.
“I think the Board should be involved on the front end of these projects as opposed to the backend and just being asked to approve them,” said Eddie Hall. “I think we should outline what we expect to see before the bids are put out, anything to do with capital improvement on our property should come from the Board, in my opinion.”
“My understanding was once it was approved in the budget, that we researched it then brought to the Board exactly what we had researched for approval,” said Fraker. “With the press box, we are simply replacing what we have, not looking at something different. We did talk to the school about their desire as far as looking at the press box in general; just what their needs were and what we have will meet our needs, if it were up to code and functioning. We have so many issues with it right now it’s becoming a safety issue.”
“And a little bit on what Eddie was asking there, we don’t have input into necessarily building a facility,” said Board member Bobby Hall, saying that the Board does not have the expertise of architects and those who build facilities. “What a Board does is simply oversee (a project). That lets your workers develop it and put it together. And we oversee it; we can either reject it or we can approve it. We don’t micromanage the system.”
“It’s not micromanaging,” said Eddie Hall. “I respectfully disagree with you. Even by statute, a Board is charged with capital improvements and approving them. You all the time want to look at what other systems do; you can look at the Daily Citizen from Sunday’s edition and the Whitfield County Board of Education is very involved in some of the changes they’re making. The Board has a duty to outline how the tax money is going to be spent and what improvements are going to be made. The principals may come and go from year to year; the Board has to have the future vision to what the facilities are going to look like and what direction they’re going to go in. They do have the right to do that; it’s not mircromanaging.”
“We do have the right; we’re the last one to say yes or no to a project,” argued Bobby Hall.
“And we’ve got a $226 thousand dollar project to say no to,” said Eddie Hall. “Could we not have saved some time and money and told them how we wanted that building (press box) to begin with?”
“I couldn’t even tell them how to build a building; I’m not a great architect,” said Bobby Hall.
“It doesn’t take too much to build a building with three windows and some power,” said Eddie Hall.
“I cannot get the approval from the State; that’s why we hired a superintendent to do our job and make it more efficient,” said Bobby Hall. “We just approve or disapprove.”
Board member Jason Hendrix asked what other options were available for the press box.
“I know it is in disarray and it’s not safe to walk on part of it,” said Hendrix.
“What we looked at was a (prefabricated) replacement of the same size,” said Fraker.
“Is the price basically setting it in?” asked Hendrix.
“That’s everything. It’s the demolition, it’s the setting it into place,” said Fraker. “And also, it’s reinforcing the footings. When you talk about doing a new placement, and since it’s a new structure, it has to be with a new ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance. We had talked before about a neighboring county had an elevator in theirs; there’s a reason for that-you have to have an elevator or a ramp when you’re doing a new structure. So that price did include everything, making sure it’s safe, it’s placed and the demolition of the old.”
Other options that have been discussed, according to Fraker, include getting an architect involved, which would become a renovation of the existing press box.
“It’d be more cost effective to renovate what we have in place versus a total replacement,” said Fraker.
Hendrix asked if the system did a renovation instead of replacement, would the project still have to be ADA compliant.
“It’s not ADA compliant now, right,” asked Hendrix.
“It is (compliant) for the year it was placed, or the year it was done,” explained Fraker.
“Are other press boxes in our county ADA compliant,” asked Hendrix.
“Sonoraville High is ADA compliant, because after the year it was built, I talked with a state fire marshal about that, if we renovate just a small part, just a facelift, we don’t have to bring it up to (the current ADA) standard,” said Ron Norrell, Director of Facilities for Gordon County Schools. “If we tear it down and rebuild ourselves, then we have to bring it up to ADA standards.”
“So whatever year it was built, it’s ADA compliant. We can make it where it’s safe enough for students or whoever to be on top (of the press box) and wouldn’t have to update it with an elevator or ramp, just update it to the date it was built?” asked Hendrix.
“Does it have to be built on top of the stadium?” asked Eddie Hall. “In years past, when press boxes were first built, the stands were closer to the field and they needed to be up there. If you built that press box in the first row, it’s going to be able to see the whole field. Does it have to be built that high, which I think adds to the expense?”
“The only ones I’ve ever seen that were at ground level to walk in was because the stadium went down,” said Fraker. “I think part of (the need) is being able to see the plays that are going on from a bird’s eye view and the second story, having that for the filming and coaches.”
“I know at one time, there’s been other projects, perhaps a school project, for the school construction team. Is that something we can look into on this project?” asked Hendrix.
“That was what we were talking about, with this project, it would not be in the best interest to do it ourselves because of the safety,” said Fraker.
“If we looked at what we currently have, and put out a bid to take what we have and get it to where it is safe, secure and refacing the outside, new flooring, a roof and fencing on the top, that would certainly, we would think, would be a cost savings over this (bid),” said Fraker.
Hendrix asked if local contractors would be able to be used.
“Anybody can bid,” said Norrell, saying that there are certain requirements, such as contractors have to have $1 million in liability insurance, have to be E-Verified and other standards the system has to go by.
“If they meet all the qualifications, they are more than welcome to bid on it,” said Norrell.
“And we’re talking about this as a capital outlay project?” asked Board member Chris Johnson.
“Yes and it was my understanding that, originally, there had been talk of trying to do this before the school year started,” said Fraker. “But the only way to do that would have been to go with the State contracted price, which is where we got the price that we put in the capital outlay as a benchmark for what it might be, with the hope to save money and put out a RFP and once the football season was over. But we did look back at the price they gave for the state contract and I’m not sure it included (everything). It would be far greater savings, we think, to bid it as a remodel and a renovation to an existing structure that’s there.”
“The state fire marshal was not concerned with a renovation,” said Norrell.
Board Chair Charlie Walraven asked if there was a timeline for the renovation. Norrell told him it’d be this summer since the system will have track and soccer starting after the first of the year, which will utilize the press box for speakers, microphones and scoreboard.
“If we go ahead and get a plan and what we want to do to (the press box), we can get an RFP and get contractors bidding on it,” said Norrell. “Then after soccer and track is finished, we can start on it.”
Bobby Hall then asked if the power box need to be inspected due to their age.
“What we have is power coming up there, it runs to our own transformer that we own,” said Norrell. “We come out of that transformer to the (power box). What we’ll probably do is upgrade the transformer and the power box when we do (the renovation), and totally rewire it. You’re going to have the insides gutted anyway, and it doesn’t cost a lot to do that.”
Walraven then asked when the Board could see some preliminary cost numbers; Norrell told them he could have those ready within a couple of weeks.
The Board then went with Fraker’s recommendation to reject the proposal presented for the press box.
The next meeting of the Gordon County Board of Education is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Gordon County College and Career Academy.