Will School Board repeat past mistake? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Will School Board repeat past mistake?

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2/23/2005

Albany-- The Dougherty County school board voted to go back to a construction method that wasted millions of dollars in the past. In 1999, Construction Manager Beers-Moody was slated to finish 10 school construction projects for the Dougherty County school system. But the company resigned after the School Board realized that having a construction manager was costing millions more than expected. Five years later, the board voted to go back to that old way of doing business.

The Dougherty County school system is building a new Northwest Elementary School on Gillionville Road. The school system hopes to open the school on Gillionville Road by August 2006. School Board member Michael Windom says hiring a construction manager to oversee the project will help the system meet that tight deadline.

"That firm takes you from A to Z. They manage the project for you to keep it on time and on budget," said Windom.

But, the costs swelled under the former construction manager, Beers-Moody, used by the school system in the late 90's. S school board member David Maschke says it's a complete waste of taxpayers' money.

"It was proven repeatedly after they resigned, we could follow the traditional design-bid-build and save millions of dollars of each project," said Maschke.

Maschke says the school system loses control over a project and its budget under a construction manager. "The construction manager would be in the position to invite and eliminate certain builders because they can influence who does and doesn't bid."

But, Windom says they're tightening the contract. The contract will safeguard the school system from past problems which he says stemmed from Beers-Moody, not the construction manager concept. "I'm not convinced that construction management cost you more money because you receive a guaranteed maximum price. If they go over that price, they face repercussions. I feel like we have adequately safeguard in place to ensure a quality project on time and on budget."

Now, the School Board is soliciting bids for a construction manager. The board will the review the interested companies before choosing which one, if any, will oversee the Northwest Elementary construction. T he school system hasn't set a price tag for the new school.

School Board member David Maschke said he doesn't expect the school board to consider Beers-Moody for the job, and he'd be surprised if they even showed interest in the work.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com