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School Board ranks construction management firms for new school

By Staff | May 26, 2015

The School Board of Lee County ranked five construction management firms for a new high school in the South Zone after a lengthy discussion Tuesday evening.

Board chairman Cathleen O’Daniel Morgan pulled the agenda item for further discussion, which she later shared, due to her making a political statement. The statement triggered a motion, which passed, with Morgan opposing.

The board approved rankings of construction management firms that will provide services for high school “LLL” in the South Zone. The rankings were Gulfpoint Construction Inc.; Chris Tel Construction Inc.; Suffolk Construction Inc.; Owen Ames Kimball Inc. and Gates Butz Institutional LLC.

With approval, the superintendent was given authorization to execute all of the necessary documents, as well as proceed with negotiation and execution of a contract upon to the final ranking.

Morgan said after reading through the documentation process of the construction management firms on their ranking, she discussed her concerns regarding the quality and ethicacy of the selection process with Board Attorney Keith Martin. She told the board members that her allegation is someone skewed the results.

“Ultimately I had to acknowledge the failure of the board to approve the recommendation would expose us to potential legal action by the number one ranked construction management firm. Nevertheless while the actions may not have been fraudulent and the process is transparent, I do not believe it was fair,” she said.

Morgan said her confidence in the process has been undermined by what she believe was pre-perceptive by members of the selection committee to direct favorable outcome to a particular company.

“This process and the rubrics has been used for probably going on 10 years. I know that the disgruntled people that probably approached you that didn’t get the bid didn’t have a problem when they received the bid for the last school before,” board member Steve Teuber said. “It’s a very competitive process.”

He asked Morgan to point out on the tabulation sheet where she saw any inconsistencies.

Morgan said it was not the tabulation sheet alone that she questioned. She said she pulled up documentation available and obtained proposals written by the five companies and looked at their presentations verse the grading that was done.

“I don’t believe the process is fair,” Morgan said. “I would like to see this process revisited.”

Teuber said based on the numbers, three out of the seven people that were in that pool had a deviation between 29 and 30 points. He said four of them had a deviation of 18 points.

“If there is something we should know, one vote is not going to sway anything. If you have valid information then there would be a change in the vote,” Teuber said.

A principal and certain designees are on the committee, he said, to provide balance. Teuber said he would be more than willing to be part of the discussion to review the rubric, as long as they have representation from the construction department.

“The issue that you have with this is as big as we think Lee County is, it’s a small community,” he said. “Everybody knows everybody. It is also very difficult when you are doing construction bids or operation bids to be able to give the proper grades on rubrics. You have to have some level of expertise in that process.”

Board member Jeanne Dozier said years ago there were people that screamed foul that they were not getting enough work and the district did not let everyone know what they were doing. She said they had workshops, and the district still does workshops periodically to let companies know exactly what the expectations are and what they are supposed to put in the binder for the bid process.

“This is a formal bid process and it is a lot of work that goes behind the scenes for the companies itself,” Dozier said. “I think that it is a very clean process.”

Dozier asked Morgan what company had a problem, which she denied to answer.

“If someone contacted you as part of one of these teams, technically they should be thrown out because we have a black out period where we cannot be contacted or we cannot be lobbied in any way,” she said.

Morgan said she discussed the information with Martin.