For a moment, it looked like the Chartiers Valley School Board might not approve $70,000 in change orders tied to its $80 million middle school/high school construction project.
The project’s construction manager, Jason Day, told the board that if the change orders weren’t approved, the middle school building could be “nonfunctioning” by the time school starts.
But with only six board members attending the meeting, it looked like the district might not have the five “yes” votes needed to accept the additional costs.
Prior to the vote, the members who seemed to be in the “yes” camp were Mark Kuczinski, Erik Kraemer, Sandy Zeleznik, and Julie Murphy, who was attending via phone.
Jeff Choura seemed more likely to vote “no.”
That left board vice-president Alka Patel, who said that she was going to abstain from voting because of concerns that the board wasn’t being adequately informed how additional costs were impacting the project’s long-term budget and timeframe.
“Having that big picture is critical to me,” she said.
Board members Tony Mazzarini and Jamie Stevenson were not present.
Bob Kearney wasn’t there either, until it became clear that the change orders might not be approved. That’s when school superintendent Brian White walked out of the room mid-discussion while looking at his cell phone. Minutes later, he re-entered the room and said that Kearney had joined the meeting by phone.
Thus the change orders were approved 5-1-1, with Choura voting no, and Patel abstaining.
During the discussion, representatives from P.J. Dick, the firm overseeing the project, disputed the notion that they haven’t kept the school board informed about how change orders impact the timeline and bottom line.
In particular, those issues are examined during a regularly scheduled Wednesday conference call, Day said.
Patel said that she isn’t able to attend that call due to work obligations and suggested that P.J. Dick might allay some of the board’s concerns by regularly issuing an executive summary-type document offering a closer explanation of each change order.
You can watch the full video above.