COMMUNITY OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

Toledo Public Schools Building Program
Feb. 16, 2005

Minutes

Present: James Cobham, Jeanne Emch, Darlene Fisher, Bonita Johnson, Joyce LaVoy, Steven Ramirez and Kevin Smith

Excused: Bill Babcock, Jodi Gross, Richard Hodges, John Martin, Doni Miller, Rev. David Morris, Barbara Petee, Kenny Terry, and Ford Weber

Also attending: Dan Burns, Bill Ramsey, Mr. Riley and Sarah Foley (recording secretary)

Presiding Chair Ms. Emch called the meeting to order at noon. The committee approved the Jan. 19, 2005 minutes.

Ms. Emch informed the committee that Kevin Smith will be the new co-chair.

Mr. Smith handed out the scheduling committee report. He also mentioned that there haven’t been many changes since the last update. Some items have been moved two weeks from the original date. The only major change in dates is that Leverette Middle School has been delayed six weeks because of the review process. The Scheduling Committee will begin to track segment two schools in April.

Ms. Emch handed out the financial report. She stated that it appears as though the numbers are bad, when in fact they have improved. The committee will continue to focus on the overall picture and will do what they can to produce the best buildings at a low cost. The cost of building materials has risen, such as steel and concrete etc. They couldn’t change the original budget because that is determined by the State. The committee is satisfied they are doing the best they can to keep figures low.

Mr. Burns said that the contingencies do have significant dollars to them, but they have done their best to keep costs low. They have used money from locally funded initiatives (LFI). He also mentioned that when you take out the change orders the projects aren’t far over budget.

Mr. Burns said that we are not the only ones over budget. The OSFC must amend the budgets if changes are to be made. Mr. Burns wanted to remind the committee that the buildings are built to the newest technology and standards and not the 2002 standards, which were used to create the budgets in place by the State.

Mr. Burns mentioned that the district would have a capital improvement levy on the ballot in the spring. The money collected from this levy will be used to keep current buildings warm, safe and dry. This levy will also be used to include additions on new buildings. It is written as a new levy because the funding can be used on new buildings and the old levy is written in a way that money cannot be used for new construction. So this levy will be a substitute levy.

Mr. Burns showed illustrations of the new Ottawa River and Robinson schools. He wanted the committee to see what quality schools they are building and know that all of the schools in all of the segments will be of that quality.

Ms. Emch said that it takes money to continue to keep the buildings warm, safe and dry. It is very important to maintain the older buildings while they still have students in them, while still being cautious about how much money you invest. Ms. Emch reiterated that it is essential to pass this levy.

Mr. Smith stated that as they get closer to the end of the projects the estimating would get better. The cost of materials has added about 10-12% on the original estimated costs. That number is consistent across the board for most construction projects.

Ms. Emch said that Toledo is fairing much better than the other big eight school districts and everyone is working hard to keep costs low.

Ms. Fisher asked what the district is doing to address the extra 10-12% costs added to the project. She expressed concern at asking voters to pass another levy without actually seeing new buildings. She is also concerned about segment 6 and if we will actually build those buildings. Ms. Fisher felt that the enrollment numbers could be an issue as well.

Mr. Burns said that at this point in time Ottawa River will be open in June, so there will be almost complete schools by the time the levy is on the ballot. He said that there should be a lot of excitement coming this summer when the community starts to see the results.  A few months after the levy additional schools will be opening, so things are really starting to get moving. As far as enrollment numbers are concerned, the district is carefully monitoring and planning those numbers. They want to stay away from mega-schools. Some schools will get smaller and some will become larger. They are conscious that there is a population loss in certain areas.

Ms. Fisher asked about redistricting and how people will know what school their children will attend in five years.

Mr. Burns said that the district must make all decisions on where to site and how to schedule with the help of the OSFC. The recent development of parochial school closings may benefit TPS. Mr. Cotner will be in charge of looking at the redistricting process. They have recently purchased boundary software that looks at not just where people live but the demographics of the area.

Mr. Riley said that the district couldn’t make changes to the scope of a building, like adding an extra gym because of the commission. There are statewide standards called the Program of Requirements (POR) that the district must adhere too.

Ms. Fisher said that population may get to the point where we will not need 69 schools.

Mr. Riley said that no one foresaw the steel prices increasing. Three to four percent was built in to the estimates for the rising cost of building materials, but no one expected the huge jump. The district did propose designs that eliminated LFI for brick and locally people have a preference for brick buildings. The district fought hard to let the community build over budget because the community wanted brick. The OSFC will allow pitched roofs if the building is on budget, however if no then a low-slope roof must be used. If the community decides that they still want a pitched roof, then LFI money must be used.

Mr. Burns reminded the committee that the OSFC does not require the district to involve the community in planning the buildings. The OSFC requires that you meet once with community members, however the district meets several times with community members in order to design buildings that the community wants. Mr. Burns believes that once the community sees what great schools are being built the students who don’t currently attend TPS schools will want to go to those new schools. He also said that there will not be any flat roofs, all roofs will have a pitch or be low-slope roofs.

Ms. Emch said that enrollment is ongoing. In some areas population is a volatile thing. The population can fluctuate because of new housing or the demolition of existing housing. Things change and they cannot build a small school if it will be too small. The buildings must be built to accommodate future enrollment.

Mr. Riley pointed out that even though some of the buildings are over budget it is because they have purchased technology that will have savings in operation for years to come. For example, changing the warranty on the roof may affect the original cost, but will save money down the road. This goes for the mechanical systems as well, they are an investment. Mr. Riley feels that this is the smartest option because the State funds 70% of what we spend now, so it will save the taxpayers money down the road because the State will not pay 70% of operational costs. He said that the commission says that automated mechanical systems will save money in the long run.

Mr. Ramirez said that the historical committee had nothing new to report.

Mr. Burns said that the historical committee did take a tour of the Navarre elementary and identified things to bring forward into the new school. They pointed out some paintings that could be incorporated into the new school.

Ms. Emch informed the committee that Mr. Riley was asked to come and discuss the legalities of the building project with the committee.

Mr. Burns explained how the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program came about. He said that he was directed by the Superintendent to put together a plan to include diverse and local members of the community in the building project. Mr. Riley and Mr. Burns met with local minority groups and trade groups to put together a plan that would attempt to include everyone. The planning process took about 8 months and set specific goals. The group also talked about the capacity of the city to do this amount of construction. They are dedicated to trying to keep jobs local, but they have to except the lowest bid. Mr. Burns said that while planning they knew they wouldn’t be able to automatically and immediately meet their inclusion goals, but they wanted to do the best they could to meet those goals. Mr. Burns is pleased with the numbers they have achieved so far and is confident they will continue to improve as the project continues.

Mr. Riley said that legally all the district can require is that the contractors make a good-faith effort to include minority businesses. By law you cannot require the contractors to make a certain quota. TPS requires all contractors to contact minority businesses to get a quote, if that quote is not sufficient that is okay, they then sit down the contractors and tell them why they didn’t get the bid. TPS was the only district to invite the OSFC to be a part of the MBE process, the OSFC has not objected to its inclusion.

Mr. Burns said that contractors must sign a notarized document that they have made a good faith effort. They must prove with a fax transmission log that they have sent information to minority businesses. He also pointed out that some contractors’ look like they only have 10% minority participation on the last report, but those numbers will improve as soon as they start working. A lot are using minority sub-contractors and have not actually gotten to the work yet. He also said to remember that currently some contractors don’t have the capacity to participate because they have other bids with TPS, but when those projects end they will be available to work on other projects.

Mr. Cobham said that the last report looked very good and he is pleased with the MBE participation numbers.

Ms. Emch said that she is confident the numbers will get even better as the project continues.

Mr. Burns said that he is adamant to help the local economy and that it is imperative that he use local companies whenever possible. He also mentioned that on the 25th they are going to Columbus to have a meeting on community inclusion. They will meet with the other urban districts and discuss these issues.

Ms. Emch thanked Mr. Riley for attending the meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for March 16.

The meeting adjourned at 1:35 p.m.