COMMUNITY OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
Toledo Public Schools Building Program
October 19, 2005
Present: James Cobham, Darlene Fisher, Bonita Johnson, , Doni Miller, John Martin, Rev. David Morris and Steven Ramirez.
Excused: Bill Babcock, Jodi Gross, Richard Hodges, Joyce LaVoy, Kevin Smith and Kenny Terry.
Also attending: Dan Burns, John Foley, Gary Sautter, Bill Ramsey and Sarah Foley (recording secretary).
Mr. Martin called the meeting to order at noon. The minutes from the August 18, 2005 meeting were approved.
Mr. Ramsey gave the scheduling report and a detailed timeline on construction progress. All of the projects are moving forward.
Mr. Sautter added that they are starting the meetings for the Segment Three schools.
Mr. Martin distributed a finance report to the committee. He reported that Bowsher is currently 1.3% under the estimate; Libbey Middle School is 10.9 % over the OSFC 2002 estimate, but 4.3% under the more realistic construction budget. Start is 2.7% over the OSFC estimate, but 8.7 % under the construction estimate.
Mr. Burns stated that it appears that bidders are becoming more comfortable with the process. He also added that hurricanes have also affected budgets locally. For example, plastic bags are now $3 more per case. These costs do affect TPS budgets and spending.
Mr. Martin stated that that TPS is doing much better than other districts with the project.
Mr. Burns stated that there are certain places where he refuses to cut because there are long-term savings when you spend more upfront, especially on technology, mechanical, and security items. However, these are things that you have to work out with the OSFC. He stated that it is premature to look at the budgets until the project is complete.
Ms. Fisher asked if Ottawa River is complete.
Mr. Burns said that there are always punch lists and district changes at the end of a project. The project will not be complete until the district accepts the building.
Ms. Fisher asked if they felt they would be three to four over at the end of the segment.
Mr. Burns said yes, but everyone should keep in mind that they were going to be 5.5 % or more over and other long term cost saving items are not in the report.
Ms. Fisher asked how they are keeping track of the money that they need.
Mr. Martin stated that he feels that the committee should be looking at the big picture. They want to separate LFI (Locally Funded Initiatives) and OSFC monies. Mr. Martin is new to the subcommittee and is working on a simple summary form that can break down the numbers in an easy to understand format.
Ms. Fisher stated that the committee needed to look at the fact that they are spending more money for fewer schools.
Mr. Burns stated that she needed to keep in mind that the individuals working on the building projects have jobs in addition to the responsibilities of the project, other districts have whole departments dedicated to building projects. Also, the district is adding many items to the schools that the community is asking for that OSFC doesn’t budget for. The people of the community deserve these beautiful details, but zoning codes on items like brick add money to the project. The district is trying to resolve these issues.
Mr. Martin added that items like bricks and sloped roofs add $10 million in unanticipated costs to a project. Those costs come from zoning codes that has nothing to do with the quality of the building.
Mr. Burns stated that we have greatly reduced the overages as a team. Not all buildings will have a sloped roof, for instance Navarre won’t because it is a three-story building and a sloped roof would dwarf other structures in the neighborhood.
Ms. Fisher asked if that would allow more money for unknown expenses.
Mr. Burns stated that there would always be unknown expenses. For example, Beverly school had plumbing breaks and those types of problems will always be a priority because of safety and health concerns. The capital money will be used for items like that as well as increased cost of bus transportation because of fuel costs, as well as security and technology. It could also be used potentially for items that the community wants on new buildings. For example the Scott community feels that they are underserved with tennis courts. Mr. Burns stated that he believes they deserve a tennis court in their neighborhood.
Ms Fisher asked how does the committee justify asking for more money from the community.
Mr. Burns stated that the capital money has been used on repair items since 1982.
Ms. Miller sated that it may help to remind the committee of their role. The committee is responsible for reviewing the building project and reporting their findings to the community and tell the community the good and the not so good things that are happening.
Ms. Fisher asked if people in the community wanted the committee to support the schools levy.
Mr. Martin stated that it is his recommendation that the committee support the levy. He stated that he feels very strongly that the schools need this. The folks there have been working with budgets from 2002 and they can’t wait for construction costs to go down before they build. This is a complex project and the people will benefit from the flexibility the new levy will give TPS. Mr. Martin stated that he trusts the judgment of TPS.
Ms. Fisher stated that she feels that the talking points should be revised.
Mr. Foley stated that the talking points were meant to be an internal piece that would assist the board members and were not intended to be distributed to the community to explain the levy. They will be revised.
Mr. Burns stated that he has to make judgment calls every day to properly utilize the budget.
Ms. Fisher asked if the committee felt that the community will accept the levy or are there other ways to come up with the money.
Mr. Martin stated that the committee is not accountable to do things because the community feels a certain way. It is not their responsibility to go out and get the opinions of 40 neighbors first. It is the committee’s responsibility to make the decision based on facts. Mr. Martin feels that this levy is a need.
Ms. Fisher asked if there were other ways to fund the shortfalls.
Mr. Martin says that as a person who runs his own company he knows that it is important to have the flexibility to spend the money as they need it. He asked why people would want to tie the hands on spending the money when no one knows if the next two years will bring high building costs or high maintenance costs.
Ms. Miller stated that she would encourage everyone to know the role of the committee. There are subcommittees that are responsible for reporting facts, not responsible to report out information based on the perceptions of the community. She asked if there were any other questions on the levy.
Ms. Fisher stated she wasn’t sure if it was the place of the committee to endorse the levy.
Ms. Miller asked Mr. Martin to requests a motion that the committee will support the levy.
Mr. Martin asked for a vote on the committee endorsing the levy. All committee members present voted 5 to 2 in favor of endorsing the levy.
Ms. Miller gave the MBE (Minority Business Enterprises) report. She stated that while TPS has been making every effort to include minority businesses they have not reached their goals. Ms. Miller added that this seems to be more an issue of the number of minority businesses who have the capacity for a project like this, than an issue of the schools not utilizing MBE. She added the MBE subcommittee would be having a meeting to come up with a recommendation to increase MBE inclusion. The meeting would help determine what types of goals would be realistic.
Mr. Burns stated that the other workers on the project like architects and surveyors do have good MBE numbers, but they are not included in the report.
Mr. Ramirez gave the historical committee update. He stated that there are a few meetings coming up in November, but there isn’t anything new to report.
Mr. Burns added that the contractors have been using historical aspects from buildings as they are rebuilt.
Ms. Miller suggested that for the next meeting they tour one of the new buildings.
Mr. Burns stated that they could arrange to do that at the next meeting. He also added that he was excited to announce that TPS is wrapping up a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club for Sherman school.
The next meeting will be December 13, 2005.
The meeting adjourned at 1:30 p.m.