Scottsdale Schools swiftly takes next steps in bond rebuilds

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board met April 20 at Coronado High School. (file photo)

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board is playing a game of catch-up as elected leaders have now discussed and subsequently approved alternative methods to begin the design and construction of its crumbling elementary schools.

The local Governing board  Thursday, April 20 met at Coronado High School and enacted four contract items relating to the approved bond projects. Coronado High School is at 7501 E. Virginia Ave. in south Scottsdale.

After some confusion on the dais about contracts that were not in the board’s book of prepared literature prior to the work session discussion, the board only voted on four items while five items were on the docket for approval.

The fifth action item — request for qualifications for the rebuild of Hopi Elementary School — died for a lack of board support.

The first projects, which have been board-approved for the $229 million bond passed by voters in November 2016, are: the rebuild of Hopi Elementary, Hohokam Traditional, and Pima Elementary schools.

In addition, new and re-purposed space at Cheyenne Traditional School and track and field improvements at Chaparral, Coronado and Saguaro High School have been approved.

The governing board voted 5-0 to approve an “Alternative Project Delivery Method” for the request for qualifications, for anticipated school and facility rebuilds.

Pima Elementary was the most recent school approved for a rebuild, and its APDM approval is set for a May 4 meeting, Missy Mudry, a procurement consultant said, in addition to an unknown project coined “Central Kitchen Project.”

“We have a project that we’re going to bring and discuss with the Governing board  with how to actually save the district money,” Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell said of the kitchen project. “It hasn’t been discussed, and it will be discussed in May.”

The Alternative Project Delivery Method approves the use of a construction manager at-risk, known as CMAR, services. This option allows the architectural firm and contractor to work in tandem prior to all documents being finalized, Ms. Mudry explained to the Governing board  on April 20.

Without the alternative project delivery method, all drawings, design and information from the architectural side of the project would need to be finalized before solicitation for a contractor could begin.

“The rule says you have to determine in writing that you’re going to use an Alternative Project Delivery Method, which is what a CMAR at-risk would be,” Ms. Mudry said.

“So that’s where all these — probably should have been done back in December, when you initiated and directed to move forward with some of those construction projects — but we’re here now.”

The district fell-behind on these projects because of a resignation in the procurement department, according to Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell.

“As you know, we had resignations in the procurement department in January,” she explained. “So we have been without a lead, and we have hired a company to lead us through this process.”

According to Ms. Mudry, only one request for qualifications has been released by the district’s purchasing department.

“We were called in to kind of review that, and see if it was OK, and it was missing some key elements required for those types of solicitations,” she explained.

“One of them being the initial approval to go forward with that type of procurement.”

The RFQs for Hopi’s rebuild project were released in March, Ms. Mudry says, and she was called in about half-way through that process.

“What we’ve been doing is catch-up, we’re two months behind,” said Chief Technology Officer Louis Hartwell. “In the last two weeks to bring this up to where we can actually go out for proposals, to get a CMAR program, to get us a schedule, so that we could go ahead and get some of these proposals out to the field, and then start the process for selection.”

Confusion around the contract

The fifth action item identified for board approval was an approval of award for request for qualifications for the rebuild of Hopi Elementary School, 5110 E. Lafayette Blvd. in Phoenix.

Pima was the first school approved for a rebuild through the bond funds in December.

Governing board member Allyson Beckham called into question some of the figures and amounts presented to her in her board documents, before it was learned that a draft contract with an outlined fee schedule was not included.

“So I just need clarification, when it talks about the fee schedule, ‘the CMAR fee not to exceed $100,000’ — I’d like to know what that is for,” Ms. Beckham asked.

A district representative had a copy of the draft contract — which included the name of the construction firm selected, but was not publicly disclosed. Copies of the contract were handed out during the public meeting.

“I will have to let you know, that since we could be voting on this on Tuesday, I would not want to vote on this until I have those numbers and I knew,” Ms. Beckham said. “Since I don’t have those numbers, I would find it hard to vote.”

Dr. Birdwell said the board had the option to read the document over the weekend if it would sooth concerns, but stated multiple times that in-house legal counsel, Michelle Marshall, had read the contract over multiple times.

“I want to be clear, I’m not opposed to this construction company — it’s just that I’m not able to make a decision because I don’t have the information before this vote — I was just handed the contract,” Ms. Beckham said. “When I look at the questions I just asked you, I’m still questioning why we would be paying 7 percent on those fees.”

The vote on the request for qualifications failed for lack of a second. The Governing board ’s next meeting is 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, at Coronado High School, 7501 E. Virginia Ave.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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