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More money, more time for Bells school project | News | The Press and Standard

by | June 23, 2016 5:00 am

Last Updated: June 23, 2016 at 7:47 am

By GEORGE SALSBERRY
gsalsberry@lowcountry.com
Colleton County School District officials are dealing with two more pieces of bad news on the construction of a new Bells Elementary School.
At the school board’s June 14 meeting, members learned that not all the portions of the new facility are going to be finished in time for the start of the next school year.
Then Liollio Architecture representative Dinos Liollio came to the school board seeking to be paid for the additional work the design team had to undertake when the initial design had to be revised when the construction bids came in much higher than the school district had estimated.
For several months, school board members have been waiting for a construction update from Kenny Blakeney, director of the school district’s Department of Buildings and Grounds. Blakeney was ready with the bad news at the June 14 session.
The original plan was for the new building to be ready for the new school year on Aug. 15. If the construction schedule is not altered, Blakeney reported, the building would not be ready for occupancy until October.
To have at least the classrooms and administrative offices finished in time for the Aug. 15 start of school, Blakeney said, he met with representatives of Mitchell Construction and Lillio Architecture to make changes to the construction schedule.
They came up with a plan that shuts down work on the kitchen, cafeteria and multi-purpose room. The move, Blakeney told board members, will allow the contractors and subcontractors to pull their employees from the construction of those areas and concentrate their efforts on the instructional and administrative portions of the building.
The changes are less than ideal: classroom work could be disrupted by the sounds of construction coming from the kitchen, cafeteria and multi-purpose room.
Blakeney said in order to feed the students in the early weeks of the new school year, the kitchen staff of Bells Elementary will use the kitchen at Colleton County Middle School to prepare the students’ breakfasts and lunches and then will transport the meals to Bells Elementary.
Until the construction of the multi-purpose room is completed, Blakeney added, a kindergarten classroom will be used to conduct physical education classes.
Blakeney is now hoping that the cafeteria and multi-purpose room will be finished by mid-September.
According to Blakeney, representatives of the Office of School Facilities will be at the construction site on July 21 to conduct an above-ceiling inspection. That inspection, he told the board, “will identify all areas of concern or deficiencies.” Blakeney didn’t say how the new construction schedule might be affected if the OSF officials have concerns.
The OSF officials are expected to be back at the construction site in early August to conduct the final inspection.
If the project passes the final inspection, teachers will be able to begin moving into their new classrooms on Aug. 6 and class will begin on Aug. 15.
After Blakeney passed on the bad news, School Board President Mary Jones thanked Blakeney and the contractors “for a job well done.”
Liollio then petitioned the members of the school board to take action to pay the architectural design firm $176,235 for the additional work on the Bells project.
Liollio’s request for more money for the additional work did not come as a surprise to the school board members. The architecture firm had asked for a payment of $181,500 last September which was discussed in a previous executive session.
In a November conference call, school officials said they wanted documentation of the additional expense.
By the end of November, Liollio reported to the school district that even more work on the project had raised the additional expenses to $219,545. When Liollio provided the documentation, the price tag was scaled back to $176,235.
Liollio told the school board that the firm’s entire design team had been engaged in reworking the plan to cut costs.
The additional design work was necessary when school officials learned that their projected cost for the 45,000-square-foot school building had been woefully low.
Liollio designers then went to work with school officials to rework the design to cut approximately $900,000 in expenses.
Liollio suggested that the company had provided everything the school officials had asked in terms of documentation.
School officials said they were holding off paying the bill because the design firm had not provided sufficient documentation.

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