After more than three hours of interviews Tuesday, July 28, with representatives from three firms, the Marshall Board of Education voted to select Titan Construction of Olathe, Kan., to provide construction management services for the proposed elementary building project.
The motion instructed Superintendent Craig Noah to negotiate terms with the company.
Titan's fee -- at 1.75 percent of the project cost -- was the lowest of the three finalists, but because the total cost of construction management services includes a number of reimburseable expenses, a final figure is not yet available.
The vote was four to two, but board members were quick to note that the rare split vote did not indicate any serious divide on the issue.
"We're not at odds," said board member Cindy Brandt. "We had three excellent choices."
And board President Larry Godsey added, "We only can hire one construction management firm and that's what we did."
J.E. Dunn and Septagon Construction also presented proposals at the meeting, and board members concluded after some discussion that the services of all three finalists were comparable and each had admirable characteristics.
The role of the construction management firm will be to supervise contractors, manage paperwork and serve as a liaison between school district officials, architects and contractors during the project.
The board also consulted with representatives from the architectural firm that is developing the project designs, ACI Frangkiser Hutchens.
Board members asked whether other designs and options were available.
Board member Kathy Green said she was reluctant to invest in an addition to Benton Elementary School, built in 1922, and asked whether the proposed new upper elementary school, which would house grades three through five, could be expanded to include another grade.
After Noah and the architects reviewed the possibilies and consequences, the board members present arrived back at consensus that the current plan is the best approach at this time.
In addition to building the upper elementary school, the proposal the board plans to put before voters in November includes building additions to Benton and Northwest schools.
Michael Kautz and Paul James of ACI explained that adding another grade to the upper elementary building would involve more than adding more classrooms. If the building needs to serve about 800 students, additional space for art and music classes, additional gymnasium space and more kitchen and cafeteria capacity would have to be included.
"I don't think there's any way you can design this for 800 kids with the money you've got," James said.
James said the district would have to put money into its old buildings whether the additions are built or not.
"You're going to pour money into them anyhow," he said. "You're going to spend on them until you walk away from them."
Board members concluded that because the district can only afford to build one new building, if voters approve the bond issue, the additions to Northwest and Benton would be necessary to get more use out of those buildings.
But Brandt urged the board to follow the architects' suggestion that a long-range plan be developed that would take into account the need to develop new facilities in the future.
In addition to Brandt, Godsey and Green, board members Sherrie Stouffer, Anita Wright and Teri Wright were present. After adjourning the open meeting, the board voted to go into closed session.
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