Mistakes Increase Costs At Cooper City High





Fort Lauderdale High’s problematic renovations, dragged out over more than a decade, is bad enough.

There are many other examples that construction problems remain rooted in the school system, including another on this week’s agenda – Cooper City High.

A little more than $247,000 in cost overruns at the southwest Broward high were approved by Board members on Tuesday. Almost all of them were the fault of the school system staff.

I’ll just deal with the high school’s of repair and air conditioner work, pushed ahead of other projects last year on the long list of schools in poor condition.

Explaining why Cooper City got moved to the head of the line, School Superintendent Robert Runcie said last year that the roof was in such bad condition it was a “health and safety issue.”  It needed to be done immediately, he said.

Cooper City High just happens to be in the district of Laurie Rich Levinson, who was Board Chair at the time. She is one of Runcie’s most reliable supporters.

The $3 million project got approved in March, 2013. The notice to proceed was December 17, 2013.

Five months into the project and the staff has suddenly changes gears.

Staff decided it rather use the project’s contractor to remove old asbestos. They had planned to use their own asbestos removal vendor.

The reason: If the contractor removes the asbestos, the school system is protected from liability “for possible water damage to the building interior.” The system wouldn’t be protected if their own vendor did the work.

The question is why staff didn’t think of this earlier?

The additional cost, approved by the Board on Tuesday, was $109,992.

Okay, not a tremendous expense. But to paraphrase the late Republican Senate Leader Everett Dirksen, a little here and a little there and soon you are talking about real money.

Adding Cooper City to Fort Lauderdale High’s costs, there were over $947,000 in increases approved this week.  This at a time when the construction and renovation work at the school system is almost nil.

Voters will be casting ballots in November for or against selling $800 million in new school bonds. They alone will decide whether the school system has its construction management under control.


18 Responses to “Mistakes Increase Costs At Cooper City High”

  1. Keep it coming says:

    This hundred thousand will turn into hundreds of millions! Then what?

    Who in the hell is making these decisions ? How do they not know they wouldn’t be covered if they did the work themselves?

    Contractors=construction=school board & staff = screwed taxpayer.

    What a surprise !

  2. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    These two projects are just the tip of the iceberg. Now the Facilities Dept. is blaming the auditors, and trying to get them fired, when the audits show outrageous mismanagement and ineptitude. Just like the old Facilities Dept. did.

    The district is already spending 70% of capital money on old debt. The COPS (Certificates of Participation) are out 20 years to payoff. Speaking of debt, anyone ask how much of the $1 Billion+ has been paid down over the past couple of years?

    Why would voters approve even more? If they do, they’re contributing to the delinquency of the district.

  3. Alice McGill says:

    Years ago, South Plantation High School was under renovation. The contractor, Pirtle, could not seem to complete the job. A very energetic assistant principal pulled off the completion of the contract. Imagine if she only had to do her job of education instead of picking up the slack of the project managers. The school would have performed even better. The School Board of Broward County has never concentrated on education. Facility and maintenance issues consume it because of mismanagement, lack of planning, and kickbacks. Will it ever change? Doubtful, after all this is Broward County, the pinnacle of corruption of Florida.

  4. Rico Petrocelli says:

    Just another reason to vote NO for the $800 million Bond Issue. I’m sure these are issues that arise every time the School Board tries to complete a project…

    Just add the extra $ needed to the new tax rate, just like the cities do… Count me a NO Vote….

    Rico Petrocelli
    Former Councilman
    City of Plantation

  5. Real Deal says:

    Charlotte what would you say are the top ten best things that could happen at the Broward School board to improve their educational and administrative ability? We have heard many criticisms but what specific improvements would you recommend?

  6. chacha says:

    Charlotte needs to be on the board. Come back home Charlotte!

  7. Jorge Ortiz says:

    Cooper city high school got a new roof with a 20 year warranty five years ago and now they tear down the buildimg , what a waste

  8. john Henry is right! says:

    What can you expect with Jingles the Janitor (Jamie Curran) as Cooper City Commissioner pushing his personal agenda! He lobbied Levinson, Good and Runcie…Corruption is an understatement!

  9. Real Deal says:

    I want to find out if Charlotte has an action plan or if all she’s about is a bunch of complaining.

  10. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Real charlotte greenbarg who I do not know is not paid or wined n dined as our the school board members n the staff that wastes our money. She may oppose some physical innovations like all board Florida but that’s probably because every south Florida public project since the first ft Lauderdale , there were three, has been over budget n not completed on time. I mean was the Miami tequesta village finished within budget?

  11. Pembroke Pines Vice Mayor Jay Schwartz says:

    I am not surprised. Clearly we need more oversight with public education dollars. Change orders do occur, but there must be a systematic problem with the way business is being conducted. West Broward High School is probably the most recent example.

    I would suggest that the board allow the IG to review all construction projects going back ten years. This would be a welcomed start.


    Buying the land and constucting West Broward High was a disaster. First planned for $51 million, it ended up costing in excess of $125 million. The project was years late.

    The school system first bought swamp land in Southwest Ranches that they later found was unsuitable for construction of the school.

    The Board then bought land in Pembroke Pines far away from students they were originally planning to help. The Board bought the Pines land without considering any other property, handing an investor a $9 million profit for holding the property just 15 months.

    Meanwhile, a much-needed school in Weston went unbuilt because of roughly a decade of delays and mismanagement by the school staff. Some of those people are still working in the school system.

    The most relevant part of my 2006 Sun-Sentinel story on the high school for today in light of the proposed $800 million bond issue:

    “The dream of a Weston school may require the board to revive another dream: a $750 million bond program, which would be the largest public financing deal in Broward history. It was narrowly defeated by a board vote in August, and School Superintendent Frank Till has said he hopes to bring it up again next year to provide more money for construction.”

    The more things change, the more they remain the same.

  12. ShelleyMayhem says:

    It’s simple – Look at the proposed SBBC Organizational Chart – no staff changes – NO bond issue!

    NOT even small chance when it might be really needed?

    Same old cronies putting their interest before the students!

  13. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    The money required to run for office is driving what’s been going on for years. If you accept money from those who will profit, you can’t oppose them or they run someone against you.

    Diogenes would feel right at home.

    If board members and the sup’t. wanted to make the district run properly, they would have done it because they know what to do. You employ people who are honest, capable, not politically connected.

    A majority of the board elected by the same criteria is what’s desperately needed. Look at the drop-off in the votes for the board races. Voters need to pay attention and good people need to run for the seats.

    The county is even worse, as one longtime pol told me. I wasn’t surprised.

    And if we had a State Attorney who would produce consequences for bad behavior, it would make a huge difference. Now, if the feds don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

    It’s a systemic problem that requires backbone and paying attention. Too many in this county don’t have either ability, and too many are on the payroll of electeds one way or another.

  14. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    The Office of the Chief Auditor has done audits of major construction projects for the past 10 years. No one bothers to follow their advice. Some of them tried to obstruct the audits.

    And the district refuses to allow an IG.

  15. Stone Cold says:

    ‘Cuz Charlotte, the office of the Chief Auditor has to answer to the Scool Board, not the Superintendent.. the office of the Chief Auditor submitting reports to the Audit Committee is nice and they accept them and that’ nice, BUT it does not result in actions ‘cuz Linder and Garrestson and Till, Notter, Runcie, fight/fought the reports tooth and nail… you don’t see Bertha Henry telling Evan Lukic to screw off, she accepts his reports and implements the suggestions ‘cuz Lukic (and Thadbitt in the past) answers directly to the County Commission.

    An Auditor has to answer to the Elected Body, to be truly independent.


    You are right!

  16. Not really says:

    The auditor answers to the superintendent. Always has. Check the org chart.


    No wonder why Jingles the Janitor is asking for $100,000 in the Cooper City budget “To pay for 5 computers”…More like ‘to pay for the cost over runs. Coincidence that He was at the latest event in Cooper City…passing out campaign literature with none other than Laurie Rich Levinson!

  18. Skip Klauber says:

    Regarding the $100k proposed for payment to Cooper City schools, under the right circumstances I can see some merit in that. Instead, I’d like the City to plough $500k into the local MS & HS, with a catch. If the County does such a lousy job with tax dollars that a City has to open its wallet, the City deserves some control. A real voice in local schools. How about the City kick in $500k, but in return boundary lines are drawn so only Cooper City kids (and children of teachers/staff) come to Cooper City schools? If the City’s taxpayers have to kick in tax money, only City residents should benefit.