|$35,000 price tag for manual|
|Thursday, December 23, 2010|
By Corey Conley
The Sumner County Board of Education plans to spend $35,000 on a book. While that may seem expensive, the book will actually be an architect standards manual, a virtual bible that will specify every single component that goes into the system’s school buildings - from door hinges to water heaters.
They hope the books will save the system money by preventing costly maintenance and construction mistakes.
Board Chair Don Long feels this action is long overdue.
“When you talk to folks in construction and development, a lot of them are quite frankly shocked that a school district our size doesn’t already have a standards manual.”
The book would be a long-term collaboration between the school’s maintenance and operation staff, and a professional architecture firm.
The school staff knows which parts are poor quality and often need replacing and which ones are more durable.
KBJM Architects, the school system’s long-time architecture and construction firm, will more than likely develop the manual.
Despite its $35,000 price tag, the county stands to save money with the project. New projects can be built according to the specifications, but the real savings come as the buildings age.
“We build a school once, but we maintain them for 50 years,” Long pointed out.
District 2 Representative Tim Brewer agreed and said the book could all but eliminate expensive change-orders for school facilities, which can cost as much as $100,000.
Board Vice-Chair Danny Hale, who also chairs the Facilities and Maintenance Committee which unanimously made the recommendation, felt the need for the manual is great.
He related two stories about costly mistakes at Station Camp High School.
One night he noticed all the lights in the school’s parking lot were dark.
“I asked the maintenance guy why he let all the bulbs go out.
“He answered, ‘Well, when they built this school the parking lots lights are too tall for the equipment we have. Our equipment works at every other school, but not at this one!’”
On a similar note, the lights inside Station Camp’s gymnasium are reachable by lift, but the lift itself cannot fit through the doors of the gym.
When a light goes out, the maintenance team must hand-build scaffolding under the light in order to reach it.
The board was mostly supportive of the idea, but District 1 Representative Vanessa Silkwood raised concerns about price.
“I agree this is needed and could be beneficial. The proposed fee seems a little high. Could we put out a bid for this?” she said.
While Long said a bidding process was possible, he and District 9 Representative Will Duncan both felt the system should stay with KBJM Architects.
“It’s hard to beat Kaatz Binkly,” asserted Duncan.
“They’ve done a lot of work for us and we’ve been satisfied ,with just about everything they’ve done. I really have a lot of faith and confidence in them.”
The cost of the project will be taken from the nearly $400,000 capital outlay fund, which is set aside for such projects.
“This will be an investment, and not an expenditure,” said Hale.