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Davenport School Board Cuts Ties With Architectural Firm

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The Davenport School Board voted against renewing its contract with the architecture firm designing the new auditorium and pool for Central High School.

The decision stems from the cost of the project, bids came back five million higher than budgeted.

This project has been growing from the beginning.

Originally, it was budgeted for $21 million.

That grew to $23 million and $25 million as the board expanded the scope of the project.

The district signed a contract with the architecture firm based on a project cost of just over $25 million.

The bids came in much higher, around $28 million.

Add in the architects fees and the project cost $30 million.

Monday night, the architect is out.

"I think the board and the district are in a ridiculous position right now," says Davenport School Board President Ralph Johanson, as he expressed his frustration with the Central High School pool and auditorium project. Reality set in as the board came to realize the district spent $1.6 million in architects fees.

"It's spent and we have nothing to show for it," says Johanson.

The project grew from $21 million to $25 million. Additions to the pool, moving the tennis courts, and expanding parking added to the cost of the project. The board was supportive originally, but the bids came in too high.

"On the day of the bid we expected this project to come back on the estimate," says CSO representative John Rigsbee.

He explained to the board the $28 million bid was the result of two main factors.

"We had two large surprises, a bad number for the pre-cast concrete, and the bid market was not nearly as competitive as we expected," says Rigsbee.

The board could have chosen to keep the architects. Part of their contract included revising the project with no additional fee. Board members felt exposed though.

"It's too late to say oops, we made a mistake, a $5 million overage on what we projected as our not to exceed costs is unacceptable," says board member Richard Clewell.

The final vote, six no's to one yes. CSO's time on the project is done. Now the board needs to figure out how far back it wants to go.

"We could go all the way back to an RFP process, we could go somewhere between," says Johanson.

The board agrees on one thing. Central still needs a new pool and a new auditorium.

The board does not have to start from scratch.

It can go back to its list of architects and pick a firm that was already screened and hire them to do similar work.

The board expects to schedule a meeting to discuss this issue quickly.

 

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