Rominger Intermediate school three-modular building project over budget, again

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The Board of Trustees were presented with, yet, another price rise in the cost estimate of the three-classroom modular building project at Shirley Rominger Intermediate School at their board meeting on March 18. Mary Fitzpatrick, Senior Project Manager with Van Pelt Construction Services, said the latest rise in price came when the plumbing mechanical engineer reported upon inspection that the existing gas line was not sufficient. Landmark Construction put together an estimate at $200K over budget. In February Trustees unanimously approved moving forward on construction of the three classroom modular building project at the revised budget estimation of $2.6M. Trustees had originally approved the $2.2M project budget at the Feb. 20, 2020 meeting with a stipulation that if the actual budget went over it would come back to the board for approval.  Fitzgerald said the school district still has enough funds to cover the overage by using the remaining Measure R funds, leaving a little extra for additional projects. Trustees questioned whether there has been a change in code. Fitzpatrick said the original site was designed 20 years ago and to their knowledge was designed with the intention of eventually including the new building. However, the plumbing engineer said it isn’t sufficient and it’s his license. “We were all shocked. It’s very frustrating,” Fitzpatrick said. Joe Bittaker, the chairman of Landmark Construction, also commented on the latest setback saying that some of the price increase was due to The Division of the State Architect (DSA) but they too were not expecting the gas line news. “Unfortunately, we also were surprised by them. We didn’t expect them, but we also don’t have any control over them. We wish we did,” Bittaker said. Trustee Joedy Michael expressed frustration in the process of the project and requested an opportunity for them to talk about it as a board. Fitzpatrick walked the newer Trustees through the process the Rominger modular project went through in being presented to the Winters Joint Unified School District and school board, calling it a unique occurrence due to the COVID pandemic causing unforeseen challenges. At the time they had not predicted the pandemic or escalation costs as a result of it. “This project came because there was some funds left from Measure R and there was a need,” Fitzpatrick said. Fitzpatrick said that Landmark has identified $30K in savings and are trying to see if they can reduce the overage down to $175K. Trustees are expected to take action on the project budget at the April 1 meeting. According to Fitzgerald, prices will go up after April 2. Due to construction costs increasing daily, they cannot hold the deal price past the 30-60 days. Public Comment Former Trustee Rudolph Muldong spoke during the Public Input session to express concern for the release of release of the Assistant Superintendent Sandra Ayón for next school year. Muldong said that on Dec. 10 2020 when Josh Harris was designated as the new Special Education & Student Services Director, it was said that the position was necessary to help facilitate progress and help to assist Ayón so she could focus on shrinking the achievement gap. He said the information didn’t correlate or make sense from information he had from school board discussions to the statement released by Superintendent Diana Jiménez regarding the release printed in the Express. Muldong said that from what he read in the Express it was the position that was being done away with. However, he saw that on March 10 the school district put out a Assistant Superintendent job posting.  “It’s not a reduction of a position, it’s a person,” Muldong said. Trustees did not engage in discussion to Muldong’s information or take any actions due to guidelines of the Brown Act as stated on the Public Input section of the agenda.

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