School Board Meeting Discusses Bonds and Bidding

Published 9:59 am Monday, October 16, 2023

On October 9th Chamber of Commerce president Amber Batchelor presented the Board with a proposal to use the old Sumter Americus Highschool as a discover center introducing students to jobs and teaching financial planning.
Knighton stated the Board had approved parts of the campus for innovative readiness training, where the military would train medical staff while providing free medical services to the community.
Architect Greg Smith listed pros and cons for hard bid vs. construction management for field house construction.
With a hard bid a design created by an architect is given to the lowest responsible bidder. The Board cannot choose subcontractors. The pricing is the most accurate, but qualifications are not considered.
With construction management, qualifications are considered, owners can decide contractors, maximize local participation, and control the budget and schedule. However, it requires a clear definition of roles, fees, and has potential for higher costs.
Kearse questioned Smith.
“You would be comfortable for a project this size using a hard bid?”
“I would be comfortable doing it either way.”
Smith clarified.
“We have a limited pool of hard bid contractors.”
He explained roles.
“You hire the contractor in hard bid. In CM, you hire the employees, and you hire them based on their qualifications, not cost. With a CM, they are replacing a general contractor, and their fees tend to offset each other.”
Burns addressed support for CM.
“We can say you will look local.”
Greg Smith again addressed the Board concerning Middle School repairs, starting with canopy repairs.
“It’s basically taking that canopy there and taking the concrete part and putting a metal roof over it. So leaving the concrete and just reroofing it with metal so you don’t see the deterioration in the concrete.”
Smith stated the structure was sound.
Kearse asked the cost.
“The canopy is 524,000,” Smith replied.
Kearse asked about overall costs and time for Middle School repairs.
“Without the roof, it’s 2.78 million. With the roof, it’s 6.3 million.”
Hamilton expressed entrance safety concerns.
“Once they buzz you in, you can go wherever you want to go.”
Smith mentioned making the media center the entrance.
“It would take something pretty drastic.”
Head of Transportation Tracy Monts and Routing Clerk Dereathea Harris presented bus times. Times for the longest route, 1658 Cobb Georgia, were compared.
2022-2023 pick-up time was 5:30. Drop off time was 5:15.
2023-2024 pick-up time was 5:45. Drop of time was 4:45.
“We shaved off some time even with eleven drivers short.”
Burns commented.
“It’s almost a 2 hour ride. If we get eleven more drivers, is that going to get that down to a 1 hour ride?”
Monts replied.
“The only way you would cut that down is if you put a school down there in Cobb.”
Burns questioned Monts.
“How many routes would you have to add if we said no kid rides a bus more than one hour?”
A rough estimate was given.
“We are supposed to have 47 routes. Right now we have 36. We’d have to double the routes.”
Burns responded.
“I’m just trying to mitigate the 30 or 40 kids we got who ride two hours in the morning.”
The Board also heard a curriculum update.
LaShaunda Thomas, the pre-k through 12th grade curriculum coordinator, stated the 23-24 k-12 renaissance learning software, funded through title one, was renewed for $126,204.09.
Chief Financial Officer Natacha Merritt gave a report.
$5,501,577.32 day to day available balance as of Sept 30th.
$5,463,713.62 designated for capital and or special projects.
$452,904.24 Splost revenue for September.
The Board discussed taking an Esplost bond.
Hamilton commented.
“If we could take advantage of those previously approved bonds amount and get that money to utlilize to help offset the cost of the Middle School . . .it would allow us to take advantage of those funds and not utilize the funds we have.”
Kearse concurred.
“I agree with that. The voters approved it.”
Burns commented.
“The project that we’re looking to fund is the Middle School. If you do the whole thing with the roof, it’s 6.3. We have at our disposal five [approximately].”
Kearse cited worries about AG Building maintenance.
Burns commented on the Middle School.
“You don’t have to pay that 6.3 upfront.”
He stated disapproval for taking a bond.
“Why would we want to pay interest on the money when we know we have it already?”
Raymond Jones and Associates was the proposed bond underwriter.
The Board went into Executive Session.