Thursday, August 5, 2004

CPS board split on overseer

Hiring plan branded as power play in construction project

By Jennifer Mrozowski
Enquirer staff writer

After hearing concerns of board members, Cincinnati Public Schools' treasurer Wednesday withdrew his proposal to have an Atlanta firm oversee the district's $1 billion construction project.

Board members said they want more time to define the duties of a company overseeing the 10-year construction project.

"I don't want us to rush into this," said board member Sally Warner.

The decision came only after heated words and a morning press conference by board members Rick Williams and Melanie Bates, who called for a halt to what they called a "power play" for control of the construction program by the rest of the board.

"Without even informing the superintendent, board members have rushed to enact their own plan to control the construction program," Williams wrote in a statement handed out to reporters.

The disagreement is the latest in a dispute between some board members and the superintendent over plans to hire a firm or group of firms to oversee the 66-school renovation and construction project.

A majority of the board in April defeated a proposal by Superintendent Alton Frailey to hire a group of firms, headed by Parsons Brinckerhoff Ohio Inc., an international planning, engineering, and construction management company with offices downtown. His proposal was estimated at $16.4 million over the 10-year project.

The board said that plan was too costly and vague. They asked Frailey to work with Treasurer Michael Geoghegan to develop another proposal. During a board committee meeting Monday, Geoghegan presented a new plan that was estimated at $13 million.

Frailey said he was surprised to learn the committee listened to a proposal - without his input - to have Prad Group Inc. of Atlanta oversee the project.

On Wednesday, Frailey said he had planned to bring a revised contract proposal to the board on Monday, Aug. 9 - the first regular meeting of the board this month.


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