By Paul Gable
A plan to spend an additional three to four million dollars on school construction was nixed by the Horry County Schools Facility Committee last week.
The committee said no to a recommendation by Facilities Director Mark Wolfe that the district hire a construction management firm to oversee construction of five new schools being built by First Floor Energy Positive.
Committee chairman Neil James reportedly told Wolfe the committee was not going to vote to approve the hiring of a construction management firm.
Instead, the committee directed Wolfe to continue with the current plan of interviewing potential candidates for a construction manager position that would be added to the school district payroll.
Construction managers or management firms are traditionally hired by public bodies to act as their representative on construction projects looking out for the best interests of the body they work for.
To me, it has always seemed as another level of bureaucracy added to the cost of a project. I believe a construction manager hired by and added to the district payroll is in the best interests of the citizens.
And it may not really be necessary in the case of the five schools that First Floor Energy Positive has been contracted to build.
A review of progress to date was presented at a board meeting held almost immediately after the committee meeting. The presentation was made by First Floor Energy Positive representative Robbie Ferris.
During the presentation, Ferris noted that approximately 10,000 sq. ft. of building space had been added to the Carolina Forest Middle School project at the request of the school facilities staff. Ferris told the board no change order would be forthcoming as the addition could be absorbed in the cost of the project.
An additional approximately 2,000 sq. ft. of space was also added to the Socastee Elementary School design at no extra cost, according to Ferris.
This is in line with what First Floor Energy Positive told the board when it was chosen as the overall contractor for the five projects. First Floor Energy Positive does not desire to add costs via change orders if at all possible. The oversight of change orders is one of the most important functions a construction manager performs.
Ferris told the board that approvals for structure and mechanical penthouses for four of the five projects had already been received from the SC Board of Education Office of School Facilities. This means construction can begin on those projects as soon as the site is prepared.
Some media made it sound last month as if these approvals would be long in coming, thereby delaying the projected construction schedules. Such is not the case.