The Malverne Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to accept bids from two contractors to perform work on the athletic facilities at the middle and high schools, but not without some deliberation.
Board member Gina Genti had numerous questions for the assistant superintendent for district operations, Spiro Colaitis, regarding the plans for Proposition #2, part of that voters passed in November 2010.
She challenged his decision to opt out of hiring a construction manager (C.M.) to oversee this phase of the project, which includes reconstruction of school locker rooms, tennis courts, bleachers and athletic fields, and the installation of a turf field and press box.
"We didn't want to eliminate scope in the interest of hiring a construction manager," Colaitis said, explaining that the district chose to expand the bleachers at an additional cost of $50,000 that would not be possible if they hired a C.M., who would earn roughly $80,000 for the four-month project.
The upgrade to the bleachers was needed, according to Colaitis, because it will allow the district to host complete band, track and football competitions.
"If we're going to do this we have to be able to compete [with other districts]," Board President Patrick Coonan added.
Colaitis, citing his 30 years of experience in construction, said he felt comfortable not bringing on a C.M. because this part of the bond project is "technically simple." (He definitely wants one when the district moves on to Proposition #1, which includes major rennovations to both elementary school buildings.)
Plus, he said he was confident in the two contractors - Sigma Builders Group and The Landtek Group, Inc. - that the district selected among the few bids they received, having worked with one of them on a $35 million bond project he completed while working for the Freeport School District.
He explained that Landtek installs 90 percent of turf fields in the area including the three currently at Adelphi University, which Coonan, a dean at the college, said were done on-time, under budget and look phenomenal.
In the absence of a C.M., Colaitis would assume the role of overseeing the work, stating to the board, "I can handle this."
However, board member Karen Aker raised the concern of what would happpen if Colaitis, a Navy reservist, was called on another tour of duty while the project was underway.
"What if the government calls you as it's done in the past?" she asked.
Other board members and Superintendent James Hunderfund echoed this worry and came to the agreement that the district should hire a part-time person who would be educated about the project and prepared to work per diem if Colaitis is called to duty or takes a vacation during this time.
Colaitis mentioned that he could find someone for this job, but board member Danielle Hopkins requested that the school board be in charge of selecting this person from a pool of candidates the district will present to them.
Genti also pressed Colaitis on the price quotes the district received from the Requests for Proposals (RFP) that was sent out in January for Proposition #2. After crunching the numbers she found that in the end the overall project would come in under budget by $65,000.
"For a $4.2 million budget in this economy that seems heavy to me," she said.
Colaitis explained that the district didn't get many proposals from contractors, most likely because of its short time frame "scared off some bidders." They plan to start construction next week, complete the turf field in time for the latter part of football season and finish all the Proposition #2 work by Nov. 1.
"So we're paying a premium to get it done sooner," Genti said. "That's a lot of money for one week of football." (Hunderfund said it would be more than one week if everything goes according to plan. They are working on scheduling more home games in the second half of the season.)
Genti then suggested the district broaden the timeline at the expense of having some of the facilities done this fall, and go out to bid again in hopes of getting lower prices.
Hunderfund said that the savings might not be there because of inflationary conditions and Colaitis recommended the board move forward with the current plan instead. Coonan also pointed out that the project needed to begin soon if it was going to be completed this school year, because the synthetic turf needs time to cure before the weather gets cold, and the grass and irrigation systems need be installed before winter too.
Moments later they agreed to end talks and put the resolutions to a vote, passing the bids. Colaitis said he will send a letter of intent to award to the contractors tomorrow morning and a contract will be drafted that will be reviewed by the district's legal counsel before it comes to Coonan to sign.
Genti did have one final request though.
"When we do the [elementary school] buildings can you give us more information? A presentation?" she asked Colaitis, who agreed.
Hunderfund assured the board that a special meeting would be held when that time comes. "The next proposition is the core," he said.