I wasn't going to go tonight but at the last minute I decided I had nothing better to do and since there was only one item on the agenda, I expected a short meeting. I asked my daughter if she wanted to join me before we stopped by the high school pool for swim team sign-ups. The first words out of her mouth when we left the board meeting were "That was boring, and you like to go to those meetings?" I told her "no, I can think of much better things I'd rather be doing but someone has to be there." Someone has to be there to record what's really going on because no one would believe it if they didn't see it for themselves.
Actually, this was a very interesting meeting.
The first thing I noticed was a reorganization of the seating chart for the board members. Every board meeting I've been to over the last four years, the president has always occupied the center seat, with the vice president to one side. Tonight, President Mrs. Lara was seated on the end right next to Superintendent Kayrell. I guess she will no longer need to ask him what he wants her to do, he can just pass her notes, or tap her foot.
Next I noticed one side of the room was full of community members in support of the only item on the agenda, the approval of Phase II of the classroom extension. The other side was sparsely populated with district employees and us.
Victor Dominguez addressed the board regarding what he sees as conflicts of interest by two board members receiving campaign money from the Boghs and other local contractors. He indicated in his address that the room was full of many of the contractors who have an interest in the Bogh construction projects. Mr. Dominguez claimed that Mrs. Lara and Mrs. De Longchamp had received campaign funding from the Boghs. He told them he believed they were obligated to recuse themselves from tonight's vote. He also claimed that Mrs. De Longchamp's brother is employed by Bogh Engineering and this was another reason for her recusal.
The lone agenda item the board was addressing was Phase II of the classroom extension. This item was pulled from last week's regular board meeting. I heard no explanation on the audio minutes from the meeting as to why this item was pulled. The fact that Mr. Dominguez made a similar address last week regarding Mrs. DeLongchamp's ties to Bogh Engineering makes me wonder if Mrs. Lara wanted more time to consult with Dr. Kayrell before proceeding with the vote. This is all speculation on my part, I have no evidence.
The board considered two options.
- Option 1 has the total construction cost including the contingencies at $9,000,322
- This number was achieved by removing all of the solar in the project including the panels at the stairs.
- The total estimated budget for the project would decrease from $11,250,000 to $11,016,604; a total amount of $233,396.
- Option 2 has the total construction cost including the contingencies at $9,281,862
- This number includes the solar portion over the stairs.
- The total estimated budget for the project would increase from $11,250,000 to $11,307,295; a total amount of $57,295.
The difference is $290,691
During the discussion regarding the item, Mr. Orozco told us that he had submitted an email inquiry to administration regarding a claim that a workman hired by one of Bogh's sub-contractors is listed on Megan's List, the state's list of sex offenders. Evidently the workman was hired to remove a tree near the stadium site, right across from my daughter's school. Mrs. Lara tried to end this line of inquiry stating that this had nothing to do with the project being considered tonight. Mr.Orozco argued that he wanted to make sure safeguards were in place to prevent this from happening on other projects.
Orozco asked Mrs. Kakish if he could be allowed to ask one of the contractors a direct question. I think Mr. Orozco forgot who worked for who. I'm not sure why he needed anyone's permission to question one of the contractors employed by the district. After Kakish addressed the question, Mark Bogh offered to address the issue too. He indicated he was following all the justice department background checks and would look into this. He answered this to my satisfaction and apparently to Mr. Orozco's.
Mrs. Poulter stated she understood the solar panels would make sense if future savings outweigh the higher construction costs; Mrs. Kakish agreed. Mrs. Poulter then asked our assistant superintendent of business if she knew when the break even date was. When would our future savings make up the additional construction costs? Mrs. Kakish was unable to provide a direct answer.
OK...get ready, here comes the question to determine if you have been paying attention.
- Option 1 decreases the project's cost and Option 2 increases it.
- The cabinet recommends the more costly Option 2.
- Neither Mrs. Lara nor Mrs. De Longchamp recused themselves.
How did they vote???
You got it!
5-0 for option 2.
Just to jog your memory, the following is from my January 19th post,
Contractor Estimated Budget
BHS two story expansion
Don't worry, it's only another $300k, we are still nowhere near $50,000,000 over budget, all is well.