High School Renovation: Uncompleted After 12 Years, Cost Overruns Double What Was Planned

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

Cost overruns at Fort Lauderdale High could be one more reason for voters to question the ability of the school system to manage $800 million in new bond money.

Minutes after approving the bonds this week, School Board members were presented with roughly $700,000 in bills from increased renovation costs – formally called “change orders” – at the high school. Other cost increases had been approved last month, ballooning he $16 million project to $17 million so far.

Cost overruns are running double what had been planned.

First planned 12 years ago, the remake of Fort Lauderdale High’s now won’t be completed until later this year.

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Donna Korn: Questions cost overruns

 

Member Donna Korn was listening to the presentation by the schools’ construction managers when they casually mentioned that $17 million wouldn’t be the final bill for the long delayed project. Costs are expected to increase another $300,000 before the project is completed, the staff said.

Korn bristled.

She had a long telephone conversation with staff about the cost overruns earlier in the week and was never told more increases were coming.

“We missed that we had additional change orders coming,” Korn said. “How did we miss that? We had an extensive call yesterday.”

Greg Boardman, the school project manager, answered: “I don’t remember you asking..”

Korn fired back that it was clear during the conversation she had an intense interest in the costs of the project:

“I certainly don’t expect staff to be a mind reader. (But) if you have a Board member having a conversation with you and they have a heightened concern over the $1 million in changing orders already in front of us…When you are aware there is another $300,000 coming in change orders, I’m not sure how that escapes the conversation. I wouldn’t know to ask that question. It is making me really concerned…Is there something else I didn’t ask that’s out there that is going to come and surprise us?”

Boardman and his boss, schools construction chief Shelley Meloni, didn’t answer “yes.” But they didn’t say “no,” either.

These are the folks we are trusting to manage the upcoming $800 million bond issue!

The bonds still need voters approval in November.

Boardman and Meloni blamed the increased costs on surprises they found behind the walls and under the floors of the 60-year-old high school.

Korn pointed out that the school staff always knew the building was old and there shouldn’t have been this many surprises.

With her eye on the bond issue, member Nora Rupert asked that staff what they had learned from the Fort Lauderdale High cost overruns?

To plan better in the future, Meloni answered.

Duh.

We’ll see in November if the voters believe her.



16 Responses to “High School Renovation: Uncompleted After 12 Years, Cost Overruns Double What Was Planned”

  1. Flying L says:

    This project in total is $5 million UNDER budget. This was was a consultant error omission but the district will cover some costs as it is in an improved product. Did you watch the meeting or just believe what your “sources” told you? They are spinning you Buddy.

    FROM BUDDY:

    I watched the meeting. It is under budget from a previous budget. The budget for this project was $15.99 million.

    Board members specifically said at the meeting that they disapprove of the staff saying since the budget was cut from a previous one, they are saving money.

    Member Nora Rupert: When the new budget was accepted by the Board, members pushed “the reset button…We’ve gone over $1 million.”

    The previous budget has no relevance, according to Board members.

  2. Mike Rump says:

    Donna Korn is exactly right to question these kinds of over runs. There is no excuse to not know what damage is behind walls and under floors.

  3. Point of Interest says:

    They would be far better off putting the vote until after they finish this High School.

    I won’t vote for the bond issue with this as an example of how they do business.

  4. Rico Petrocelli says:

    Thanks Donna for questioning the cost overruns…

    Now you know why the voters won’t agree to another 800 million Bond. This ISN”T Monopoly Money…It’s all of our Money. It’s easy to spend other peoples money!

    Case closed….Vote No! And don’t let the other taxing districts pull this on you either…

    Rico Petrocelli
    Former Councilman
    City of Plantation

  5. Señor Censor says:

    With all due respect Ms Korn you should ask your “construction managers” who is getting kickbacks on their staff

  6. Blah Blah Blah says:

    Greg Boardman should be fired for misleading the elected representative of the taxpayers. Greg Boardman’s behavior is exactly why we shouldn’t trust the board with more money. Runcie should fire him now, to spare him the embarrassment when his public exchange comes back to bite Runcie.

  7. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Board members express “concern” and “disappointment” but never demand that Sup’t. Runcie explain why he keeps the same people in high places.

    The union should be taking to the streets, but it’s not.

    I’ve been wondering who has what on whom for a long time. It doesn’t seem to matter how many grand juries issue blasts. Nothing changes.

  8. Former school board insider says:

    This is why I say, nothing ever changes with the school board. Despite the change in superintendents and the change in the board members, as long as the old staff like Shelly Meloni is there, you will continue to get half truths and partial answers.

    Former Superintendent Notter used to call this the “Broward Truth” when staff answers the questions the SB members ask, but they don’t give the complete answers.

    Donna is correct, how would she know to ask that question? And by not volunteering the extra information, the staff is demonstrating that they still cannot be trusted.

    Replace all the board members you want, change superintendents fifteen times, until there is new staff, or someone (hello Runcie?) holds the staff accountable, the public should not support this bond request.

  9. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Flying l comes pretty close to lying like the construction staff by taking an old budget figure n not mentioning an unconscionable period of construction 12 years n counting.don peeples played this game to extort money from Miami beach on the royal palm hotel project 10 years ago with the same false claims of unknown problems found. Give me a break! Not even original lies.

  10. Cowboys rule and Flying L's drool? says:

    Interesting story but as Paul Harvey would say, “here is the rest of the story.”

    Fort Lauderdale High School was not the only change order on the agenda this week. The change order for Cooper City High School followed the Fort Lauderdale High item but got no attention.

    One major difference between the two projects:
    89% ($871,390) of the change orders at Fort Lauderdale High were due to Consultant Error and Omissions while 90% ($657,496) of the change Orders at Cooper City High School were Owner Request.

    And the Owner Request at Cooper City was on top of the “additional $6 million in repairs over the $27 million allocated in 2010.”

    http://www.browardbeat.com/school-political-favoritism-on-construction-back/

    I guess when it comes to getting the Board to add money with no questions asked, the Cowboys are better at rounding up the bucks than the Flying L’s

    FROM BUDDY:

    I was going to write another piece next about Cooper City’s change order, but you beat me to it. Thanks for adding this.

    I picked Fort Lauderdale first because of the treatment of Donna Korn by the schools construction staff.

  11. Becky Blackwood says:

    If the change order at Fort Lauderdale High School is the result of consultant errors and omissions, the School Board pays for a Professional Liability Insurance policy that allows the Board to file a claim against it for the Architects or Engineers errors and omissions. Hopefully, the policy of requiring each construction project to have Professional Liability Insurance for the Architects and Engineers is still in place. This policy was created to recover error and omission costs because of poor construction documents, not change orders attributed to the general contractor. The issue in the past was whether Facilities and Construction Management filed those claims.

    FROM BUDDY:

    You summed up the problem in the last sentence. The school system has had a spotty record of collecting on those claims.

    If the system ever asks for the money back, it is not like the consultant just writes a check. The consultant usually objects to the accusation that it made a mistake. The process drags on for months or years, sometimes in court. Many times the system settles for less than the amount owed. Meanwhile, the school system is out the money.

  12. The Facts says:

    They can only recover what is not considered to be a “betterment.” If the change order is an improvement of the project they can only recover a very nominal amount.

  13. Real Deal says:

    More bellyaching from Charlotte Greenbarg. But what is her action plan of solutions?

    We’ve heard her complaints over and over again. It’s tiresome, please list what action plan you would recommend to improve the school district we can see it. We’ve already become very much aware of your complaint list. Let’s see your solution list.

  14. ShelleyMayhem says:

    Real Deal can’t you read between the lines a good start to pass any bond issue would be to remove current facilities management Sonya Coley, Shelley Meloni and, of course, the Fab Four – Greg Boardman, Dave Archer, Frank Girardi, and Juana R.

    And……the last vestige of D. Carter power Chief of Staff Jeff Moffatt Moquin!

  15. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Raw Deal, see Cooper City for my responses.

    What are your ideas for fixing the mess?

  16. Becky Blackwood says:

    To The Facts:

    Errors and omissions are not “betterment”. They are usually a code violation which architects and engineers are required by State Statute to know or they are the result of the architect or engineer failing to include an scope of work, material or assembly in their construction documents that was included in the scope of work the Professional of Record signed when they were awarded the project. You might consider an Owner’s Request category in change orders as a “betterment” to a project which would require the School Board to pay additional funds for adding the additional scope of work. Are you sure The Facts you weren’t one of those project managers either still in Facilities or relocated to another School Board department?

    One of the reasons the District decided to pay for a Professional Liability policy on each of their construction projects was because architectural and engineering firms were assigning less knowledgeable members of their firm to prepare the documents to insure a higher profit in their contract award. The School District suffered large financial losses prior to this requirement.

    In the late 1990′s, a local architect was sued for by the District for approximately 13 million dollars on 10 prototype elementary schools because of the high numbers of errors and omissions on the construction documents and the poor construction. Because the local architect’s Professional Liability policy submission of the same 1 million dollar policy over and over again wasn’t caught at the time of these schools’ construction, the District settled for $750,000.