Scottsdale school board cancels 2 bond projects

Hohokam Elementary School rebuild was one of two projects cancelled by the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board. (file photo)

Scottsdale Unified School District voted to cancel both Hohokam Elementary School’s rebuild and the Central Kitchen project for the time being.

On June 12, the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board voted 4-0 twice during a special meeting to cancel both projects utilizing funds from the passage of a $229 million bond in November 2016. Governing Board Vice President Kim Hartmann was absent from the meeting.

While the projects are canceled for now, they may come back Acting Superintendent Dr. John Kriekard noted during the meeting at Coronado High School.

“I think it’s important to point out that we are contracting with a bond consultant who will look at all of these projects,” he said. “So those projects that are up for cancellation just means cancellation through this process. The bond (consultant) will look at all of those projects and may bring some of them back.”

Hired attorney Susan Segal of Gust Rosenfeld pointed out that both projects were suspended earlier in the year.

“Part of the necessity for canceling them at this point is to bring some closure to the work that had previously been done by the architects,” Ms. Segal said.

SUSD hired two architect firms around the time the 2016 bond was approved: Hunt & Caraway Architects and Orcutt Winslow.

Governing Board President Barbara Perleberg says a bond project consultant will review the current status of projects and recommendations of school rebuilds under the 2016 bond.

On Dec. 13, 2016, Hohokam Traditional School was designated as project No. 2, although then-Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell at that time explained Hohokam’s construction would not begin for several months.

(File Photo)

The school’s name was changed in November 2017, and the Governing Board moved forward with Hohokam’s project in February 2017.

Hohokam Elementary School, 8451 E. Oak Street, was one of the first two schools earmarked to be rebuilt by bond funds, but little work has been done to date as Hopi Elementary and Pima Traditional schools took the lead on redevelopment. High school athletic fields updates and other improvements throughout the district have been conducted as well.

The central kitchen idea was first proposed during the planning of seven elementary school rebuilds following the bond passage, Dr. Birdwell said at the time. When looking at addressing the remodel of seven elementary schools, officials began to look at hybrid options.

Dr. Birdwell contended the kitchen could bring in revenue for Scottsdale Schools as well as serve as a hub for the district’s meals.

The former superintendent and two other senior administrators have since been released by the district following a bevy of legal issues that unfolded throughout the fall of 2017 and spring 2018. There is an ongoing Arizona Attorney General’s Office investigation and law suit.

In addition to voting on the bond project cancellations, the Governing Board also met in executive session to discuss its position and instruct attorneys on matters involving Hunt & Caraway Architects, Brian Robichaux, Laura Smith and Professional Group Public Consulting.

The board voted unanimously to:

  • Instruct its attorneys regarding all four legal matters;
  • Action to avoid the contract with PGPC.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

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