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05-24-06 Seas: School can’t use leftover funds for gym floor

By William Kincaid

  COLDWATER -- Superintendent Rich Seas and a board member are frustrated with how Fanning and Howey Associates, Celina, has handled some of the issues involved with the construction and renovation of the schools.

  As Coldwater's $31 million project winds down, Seas and the board on Tuesday addressed problems related with the Palace gym floor, the new parking lot in front of the school and a technology bid.

  Seas said the high school gym (Palace) floor has been scuffed and lightly damaged, as new duct, electrical and sound systems were implemented.

  Coldwater has more than $260,000 left in a contingency fund -- which was set aside for unforeseen and unexpected additional costs related to the project -- but it may not be able to use the money to finance a $16,000 overhaul of the gym floor.

  Seas told board members that because Fanning and Howey did not include the refinished gym floor in their original assessment of the construction and renovation, the school will probably be unable to use the contingency fund to correct the problem.  "I can't change that," Seas said about the company's failure to initially include a refinished floor as part of the project. "Why wasn't that in the assessment?"

  Seas told The Daily Standard that he didn't understand why Fanning and Howey wouldn't include the flooring issue when they knew there was going to be extensive work completed in the Palace. Therefore, the $16,000 may have to come out of the school's general improvement fund even though there is more than $260,000 in the contingency fund. Any remaining money in the fund will return to the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) in Columbus at the end of the project.

  OSFC funded almost $21 million of the total project.

  Though Seas told The Daily Standard he realizes the money needs to go back to Columbus, he simply wants to have the best school possible after years of disruptive construction work.

  "We'll pay attention to the detail all the way until the end," he said

  Seas also said Fanning and Howey failed to yield to the board's recommendation made two years ago about making the entrance to the new parking lot wide enough for a 84-passenger bus to enter.

  "I don't understand it," Seas told board members.

  Seas said he had a bus driver attempt to enter the drive, and it was indeed not wide enough.

  Although Seas said the problem has been corrected, the question remains who will pay for it?

  "We caught it," he said. "(But) who pays for it at the end of the day?"

  Board member Jerry Meyer agreed with Seas and said there have been "about 30 of these issues."

  Seas also said the OSFC this week rejected NuWave Technology's appeal to obtain an $87,350 technology bid to install the new phone system in the school.

  The board had to reject the Coldwater company's bid because of a mistake made by Fanning and Howey, Seas said. As the school's primary architect, Fanning and Howey is responsible to ensure that the specific requirements for all contracted work meet the standards of OSFC.

  Although Fanning and Howey gave NuWave the thumbs up for their proposed phone system, Seas and board members learned in a post-bid meeting that NuWave's ESI phone product did not meet the OSFC's requirements.

  "I do think there's some homework Fanning and Howey should do," Seas told board members. "Their counsel took us down the wrong path. We should not be put in this position (having to throw a local business out of the contract)."

  The board now has to rebid the technology packet. Treasurer Sherry Shaffer said Coldwater will advertise for two weeks and will probably not award a new contract until sometime in July.

  Seas said he will continue to bring some of these concerns to today's monthly core meetings, where Coldwater administrators, OSFC members and Fanning and Howey meet to discuss the project.


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