New Castle News

Schools

November 6, 2012

Lockley Controversy: Razzano changes position, board to proceed with project

NEW CASTLE — A straw vote last night was unanimous for the New Castle school board to proceed with the Lockley school project.

The turnaround came after board members heard an explanation from financial experts Thursday that if the district does not undertake the consolidation project of its four elementary schools into one, it would be required to pay about $8 million to terminate bonds obtained to fund the project. It also would lose $1.5 million already paid in costs toward the project.

At a heated special meeting on Oct. 25, the board voted to reject the most recent bids by a 5-4 vote.

The board now is considering choosing the least expensive of three options presented by Eckles Architecture.

That choice, which will total $19,023,733 in construction costs, represents the base bids of all of the contractors collectively, plus it has all of the more expensive alternative bids subtracted out of it.

Estimated soft costs will total another $3,689,739.

The board’s vote Oct. 25 rejected the bids based on the most expensive proposal recommended by the administration. That option totaled $19,215,283 in construction costs and $3,706,979 in soft costs.

The soft costs include furniture, architect, engineer and legal fees, and a contingency fund of 3 percent or about $77,000 reserved for any unforeseen costs.

At a special public work session last night, John G. Hays of Thomas and Williamson, the district’s Pittsburgh-based construction manager, assured the board that he and the architects will constantly be looking at ways to save the district money.

Board member Dr. Marilyn Berkely asked if they will be willing to sign off on the work.

Hays said each contract is certified by the architect and the construction manager monthly. He said they would provide monthly project totals at the board meetings, along with a running total.

After district business manager Joe Ambrosini explained the financing one more time, Joseph asked for a consensus on how the board would vote a second time on the bids.

“Based on the additional information, I will say ‘Yes,’” said board member David DiGiammarino, who had previously voted against the project.

Berkely and Barbara Razzano, who both opposed the project from the start, also relented. At first, Razzano hesitated, then said, “reluctantly, yes.”

“This will help you win the election, Barb, I think you should do it,” Joseph said, goading her.

After the poll, he commented, “9-0. That’s what it should have been in the first place.”

“I’ve been against this entire building idea,” Razzano commented after the meeting. “Now because of some creative financial move ... I had never heard of anything said before about a penalty. I can’t let the taxpayers down with more than a $10 million penalty. Now I’m stuck in voting for something I’ve been against from the beginning.”

The board has 60 days from the bid opening — until Dec. 8 — to award bids or reject the project.

David Esposito of Eckles invited all of the board members to a meeting with the administrators at 9 a.m. Thursday “to go over last week’s events of what’s happened.”

The board plans to formally vote on the lowest option at its regular school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

 Meanwhile, the topic is likely to come up again at its regular public work session at 6 p.m. Monday.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Schools
  • money.jpg Up through the ground comes education cash

    Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg Charter school petitions court with signatures

    The New Castle Arts Academy Charter School has petitioned the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas for an appeal.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Schools wait years to receive state’s share of construction bills

    More than 200 school building projects are awaiting money from the state — in some cases months and years after they cleared all other hurdles of Pennsylvania’s approval process.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Vo-tech staffers receive Pride and Promise awards

    The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center’s joint operating committee has presented Pride and Promise awards to two employees.

    April 1, 2014

  • Rich.jpg Official sorting out vo-tech finances

    Second of two parts: The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center is plowing through a financial quagmire with help from the Laurel School District.

    March 27, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • Rich.jpg Overtime pay the crux of vo-tech forensic audit

    First of two parts: Lawrence County Career and Technical Center’s former assistant business manager allegedly logged overtime while on vacation, an audit report shows.

    March 26, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Audit report details alleged discrepancies

    Forensic auditors examining Lawrence County’s vocational-technical school funds focused on overtime pay of the assistant business manager.

    March 26, 2014 1 Story

  • Audit shows more than overtime issues

    A forensic audit of the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center finances turned up more than alleged unauthorized overtime pay.

    March 26, 2014

  • Letter.jpg Our Opinion: Recording executive sessions will limit abuse

    Whenever governing bodies have public meetings, they often opt to conduct executive sessions.This is perfectly legal under Pennsylvania law — so long as the basic purpose for the executive session is explained to the public and so long as officials refrain from discussing matters in private that are required to be addressed in the open.

    March 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • State sponsoring dog license poster contest

    The state Department of Agriculture is inviting  students to enter a poster contest about the importance of dog licensing. The contest is open to all Pennsylvania students of grades 1 through 6, enrolled in public, private or home schooled children. The entry deadline is April 30.

    March 20, 2014

House Ads
Poll

Beginning tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the NHL playoffs. So, who ya got? And in how many games?

Penguins, in five games or fewer. Too much firepower for the Blue Jackets, especially if Evgeni Malkin is ready to go.
Penguins, in six or seven games. It’s a pretty even matchup on defense, but Pittsburgh will grind it out.
Blue Jackets, in five games or fewer. Sergei Bobrovsky in goal for the Blue Jackets spells trouble for the Pens.
Blue Jackets, in six or seven games. Bobrovsky gives Columbus the edge, but it won’t be easy.
     View Results