Last December, USD 443’s Board of Education unanimously voted to hire a construction manager at risk to be responsible for repairs, renovations and expansions to Soule Intermediate Center, Northwest Elementary and Sunnyside Elementary.

    Last December, USD 443’s Board of Education unanimously voted to hire a construction manager at risk to be responsible for repairs, renovations and expansions to Soule Intermediate Center, Northwest Elementary and Sunnyside Elementary.
    USD 443’s legal counsel advised the board to hold a public comment period concerning the solicitation of a construction manager at risk before hiring one.
    Lowell A. Brakey of Brak-Hard Concrete Construction Co., LLC, showed up to comment on that topic at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.
    “The reason I’m here tonight is due to the fact that I had been, recently — in the last couple of days — received calls from two different contractors that called me up to make me aware of what you’re considering tonight,” he said. “And that is KSA 72-6760e, which allows you to hire a construction manager at risk.”
    A construction manager at risk works as general contractor for a project and is responsible for subcontracting labor and completing a project on time. He or she is also responsible for any risk involved.
    Brakey said he understands that Dodge City lacks a large general contractor who could handle the scope of the Soule Intermediate Center, Northwest Elementary and Sunnyside Elementary project.
    But he said he’d like to see the work stay in Ford County and Dodge City and benefit the residents who work here and send their children to USD 443.    
    “We would ask that you come up with an affirmative action program, where this contractor works to involve the local trades,” Brakey said.
    William Hammond, executive director of business and operations, said the district tries to enlist local trades in its construction projects, has done so in the past and encourages general contractors to use local work.
    “We are in the education business, not the construction business,” Hammond said Tuesday. “Whether we do a design, spec, bid or construction manager at risk, our view is we want someone who has responsibility for the entire project so we don’t play traffic cop with sub-contractors. We don’t have that expertise. That’s not what we’re here to do.”
    Brakey said he wants the general contractors to prove to the school board that they did solicit local work for projects they’re hired to complete for USD 443.
    “Have them prove that they’ve done this because we’ve noticed, as contractors, in past instances that this has not happened,” Brakey said. “We’re not asking you to have a meeting where you invite everyone to come up and sift through the process of the whole project, or anything.”
    Brakey said the city of Dodge City tried that, and it didn’t work.
    However, Hammond said all the district can do is encourage a general contractor to hire locally. USD 443 can’t get in the middle of the process, he said.
    “I can’t guarantee anyone a job,” Hammond said. “All we can do, legally, is encourage them to look at local contractors.”
    And during the board meeting, school board President Danny Reichenborn said the district always encourages general contractors or construction managers at risk to hire local.
    That’s what Brakey wants, in addition to a construction manager at risk or general contractor proving they considered local contractors.
    And then there are smaller projects, which cost less than $20,000 to complete. Those don’t have to go up for bid.
    “We would ask that the district come up with some way of advertising this,” Brakey said. “Either on their Web site, or start up a list of interested contractors in Dodge City and Ford County that would like to bid on work.”
    The city of Dodge City advertises projects up for bid on its Web site.
    USD 443 Superintendent Alan Cunningham said in an e-mail Tuesday that USD 443 will begin implementing a system to post bids on its Web site.
    “The idea of posting projects on our website that don’t ‘rise’ to the bid level required by KS. Statute (i.e. > $20,000) is a good one,” Cunningham said. “We began to put the mechanism in place to accomplish this during my Administrative Cabinet meeting this morning.”
In other business, the USD 443 Board of Education:
    • Announced 2011 Kansas Teacher of the Year nominees Chris Doussa and Janna Pick, and the 2011 Master Teacher of the Year nominee, Elaine McDaniel.
    • Approved contracting with Ranson Financial Consultants as for the Soule Intermediate project for a proposed fee of $15,750.
    • Approved contracting with Gilmore & Bell for bond counsel for the Soule Intermediate project for a base fee of $23,500.
    •  Approved a bid for two new route school buses from Kansas Truck Equipment Co. Inc., for $187,683, to be paid for out of the FY 2010-11 general fund transportation budget.
    • Approved the purchase of two nine passenger vehicles for the transportation department and three trucks. The clerk of the board issued purchase orders to G &  G Inc. for $58,817 for two trucks and $89,650 to Magouirk Chevrolet for two SUVs and one truck.
    • Approved the 2012-13 academic calendar.