Tuesday, April 13, 2004

School board rejects overseer plan


Four firms would have supervised new construction

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati Public Schools board on Monday rejected a proposal by the superintendent to have a group of firms oversee the district's $1 billion school construction project.

The board in August approved the concept of hiring a program manager to keep the building project on time and on budget, but some members recently raised questions over the cost, estimated at up to $6.9 million for a three-year contract or $16.4 million for the 10-year project.

They reaffirmed their support of the concept Monday, but some members also worry the four firms selected by the superintendent's management team would duplicate services already being provided by the district's own staff. The vote was 5-2 against the contract.

"The job will get done," Superintendent Alton Frailey said after the meeting. "We don't have an option. We now have to revisit how to go about managing the program."

In addition to overseeing the project's budget and timeline, the firms, headed by Parsons Brinckerhoff Ohio Inc., would work to improve the percentage of minority-owned firms participating in the building project, coordinate relocation of students and staff during school moves, oversee site safety plans, develop a communication plan for the project and other tasks.

Frailey, in asking for support for the contract, said his own facilities staff is not equipped to oversee the project, which includes building and renovating 66 schools.

He said he's now concerned about dipping into the district's general fund to pay for additional district staff to manage this project instead of using money from the $480 million bond issue voters passed in May for school construction.

District officials had said the program manager could be funded from interest earned on bond sales, the sale of a surplus school building and other funds. They also hoped to save money by using the firms to manage the project.

Board members, however, questioned whether interest from the sale of those bonds could be used to pay for the management firms, as the district administration proposed.

Board member Sally Warner said the money is already earmarked for inflationary costs on building being built in the latter segments of the four-segment project.

"I do think we need a project coordinator," Warner said. "I don't think we can spend that much and I think we need to find the money elsewhere."

---

E-mail jmrozowski@enquirer.com




ENQUIRER COLUMNS
Bronson: Now is time Florida calls Ohioans south
Howard: Gift of Sight to help 500 kids

TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Device tracks bank-robbery suspects
Barton's new wife says he's innocent
Boat shooting begins the season with a thud
Batavia reservist MIA
Nine missing after U.S. convoy attack
LabOne deal will cut taxes
Trial pits Norwood against its residents
Judge sentences pair for attack on black teen
Civilian police trainer considered crucial
Group says some eligible for tax credit don't apply
Miami seeking state funds
Woman admits guilt in theft
Fatal shooting brings 8-year term

KENTUCKY HEADLINES
Lawmakers still considering state budget
Mobile-home owners upset
Water plan expensive
Heat still on Bunning
Pro or con, gay issue spurs action

EDUCATION HEADLINES
More time to learn and play
School board rejects overseer plan
New MBAs push social responsibility
Breast cancer fund benefits from walk in Reading

NEIGHBORS HEADLINES
75-year-old time capsule to be opened Wednesday
Lack of theater linked to levy
New firehouse coming
Highway money sought
Lindner donates $1.5M to YMCA
West Chester delays recreation center vote
Third meeting set on Deerfield Wal-Mart

LIVES REMEMBERED
Richard Crane operated restaurants, camera shop