Questions arise over Carson City-Crystal school project cost

By Lonnie Allen • Last Updated 12:31 pm on Monday, October 15, 2012

CARSON CITY — Carson City-Crystal Area Schools Board of Education members are questioning the timing and cost of a restroom addition to the south pod of Carson City Elementary School.

The issue arose at Monday night’s school board meeting.

The school board originally approved $150,000 for a small renovation to the elementary school’s south pod. However, Tony Leininger, owner of CARMI Design Group in Edwardsburg which arranged the bidding process, came to the board with bids more than $260,000.

A total of three companies bid on the project —  BCI Construction in Grand Rapids at $264,900, Nugent Builders Inc. in Rockford at $262,000 and Griffith Builders in Lakeview with two bids, one at $237,950 and one at $216,270.

Superintendent Kevin Murphy recommended board members look at the lowest bid from Griffith Builders in Lakeview.

However, Leininger’s explanation on the numbers and changes to this project began raising questions from board members.

“I know the original bathroom idea was two toilets on each side,” said Board President Tom Wilcox. “Then at some point when we got going on this, it was brought to our attention that plan wouldn’t be sufficient.”

Leininger acknowledged not all board members were made aware of changes as the project moved forward.

“I certainly can appreciate this is a transitionary period for the district, a lot of things are changing and everyone deserves to know the information,” Leininger said. “I hope there are people who sat on the board and remember these presentations changing from a remodel to a small renovation to a large addition.”

Board member Kriss Hummel brought up concerns about the timing of the project.

“It is a safety issue for our students,” Hummel said. “I suggest we hold off until spring. I think the community would be upset if we started this during the school year.”

Hummel also expressed concern about the size and cost of the project.

“You don’t even know what the winter cost could be,” Hummel said. “I have a real problem with the cost and obviously people in the community don’t even know about these changes either.”

Leininger said sometimes smaller projects tend to be more expensive than larger projects.

“Many times people don’t understand that the smaller the project, the dollar per square foot can go up,” Leininger said. “We actually have history of projects that are similar to this that we used as a guide.”

Hummel suggested the school board consider looking at local businesses for bids before approving the bid for this project.

“We need to look at our local resources for this project first,” Hummel said. “I think we have people here in this community that can do this project if given the opportunity.”

Board member Randy Stearns asked about the bidding process for this particular project.

“I think the length of time on this project was short,” he said.

Leininger said the bid process followed the minimum two week requirement.

“Personally, I think what Kriss is getting at here is the people in our area did not get a chance to bid on this,” said board member Gregg McAlvey. “I called Carson City Lumber and they had no idea that we had a project going on.”

McAlvey also wanted explanation on why the project changed from $150,000 to a higher cost.

Leininger didn’t have this information immediately available, but he said he could get the information to board members.

After 40 minutes of discussion, the board decided to table the item until the Oct 24 school board meeting.

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