Mt. Vernon Register-News

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December 28, 2013

Top 3 stories of 2013 revealed

(Continued)

“It is our contention the design you presented to us ... will increase the cost of the project over the $62 million price tag which is the number used in convincing the voting public to support this project,” Beard said in the statement.

In June, the Chamber sent a letter to its membership questioning how the cost of the school project had increased from roughly $62 million to $72.8 million.

Then, in July, the MVTHS Board held a special two-hour meeting to give the public a chance to ask questions about the new school project.

Shortly after this, on July 15, two MVTHS board members — Jon Hawthorne and Greg Backes — resigned from the board, citing ethical differences as their primary reason.

Both also expressed concern about the process by which Superintendent Michael Smith’s new five-year contract had been approved in June. Hawthorne and Backes were later replaced by new board members Bill Beck and Ben Mitchell.

“Due to philosophical and ethical differences between the administration, board leadership and myself, I feel that it’s time to submit my letter of resignation,” Backes wrote in his resignation letter.

During the latter part of the year, MVTHS officials worked with district consultants to prepare for the bidding out of 25 work categories for the new school’s construction.

This culminated in a special ceremony Dec. 12, where roughly 90 base construction bids for the new school were opened and read aloud at the MVTHS auditorium.

The original plan had been to award bids in the 10 critical categories — such as earthwork and concrete — in December and then approve bids for the other categories in January.

This was not done, however, because several bids came in higher than anticipated, causing the project to be about $6 million over budget.

Consultants have since come up with about $3.5 million in potential cost-saving measures, but that still leaves a cost overrun of about $2.5 million. As a result, FGM Architects may have to redesign portions of the school, which would require a rebidding of some of the work categories.

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