RANCHO SANTA FE — On the evening of Oct. 2, the school board overwhelmingly approved “lease-leaseback” as the delivery method for the new R. Roger Rowe Modernization Project.
With the lease-leaseback method, a contractor is hired based on qualifications, not necessarily the lowest bid. “We live in a community that demands high quality in a project,” Superintendent Lindy Delaney said at the meeting. Delaney spoke with many other school districts that faced similar challenges when building new schools. “All of them recommended lease-leaseback — Del Mar, Solana Beach and many other districts that build more schools than we do.”
The decision to go lease-leaseback, however, does not mean that the school board isn’t concerned with budget restraint. Gafcon, Inc., the construction management company hired by the board to work with Trittipo, the architectural design company, will immediately begin its search for general contractors. The board is looking to receive at least three competitive bids. Even though the lowest bidder isn’t assured of the contract, the board urged Gafcon to negotiate the lowest possible profit margins from all contractors. “Most contractors negotiate between 2 to 3 percent on projects like this,” Katy Wright, project manager for Gafcon, said.” Board member Ty Miller quickly pointed out that the difference between 2 and 3 percent was substantial on a $37 million project.
Representatives from Gafcon assured the board that they would do their best in negotiations, but ultimately the decision will be the board’s. “We expect competitive bids from contractors,” Gafcon representative Tim Ireland told members. “The economic environment is tough these days. The big portion of work available is government work. Even large companies will now take a look at this project.”
With the economy on everyone’s minds these days, board members asked if labor and material costs were expected to increase during the next two years as the school is being built. Wright said that Gafcon expected materials to go up anywhere from 8 to 10 percent in the next 12 months, but expected labor to remain relatively stable. The budget has contingency plans for such cost increases.
Other money-saving measures were discussed, such as the recycling of materials during the demolition phase. Doors, roof tiles and windows are materials that may be recycled, but there are considerations. “We have to be careful because some materials may be hazardous,” Ireland said. “If lead paint has been used, for instance, it isn’t salvageable. Also, many tiles may not be earthquake proof.”
Early in the meeting, Diana Burdick, a local resident and mother of three, urged the school board to consider a formatted homework Web site. “We need a reliable ‘go-to site’ where teachers post homework assignments. It should be an easy-to-use homework template.” Burdick complained that her children had 13 different teachers and all of them had different Web sites — some with password protection — making it difficult for students and parents to keep track of homework assignments. The board felt that Burdick’s recommendation merited consideration and Delaney will discuss the proposal with the administration in the near future.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 13.