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Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
More change orders on school agenda
Agenda a quiet one, not much to talk about

Like a bad penny, change orders related to the Horace O'Bryant School construction, will return to the public arena, to be voted on today, when the School Board meets in Key West.

"These are the change orders that don't present any controversial issues," said Board Chairman Andy Griffiths. "We're just fixing something that wasn't done correctly the first time. The board has to see them and bless them."

Change orders are adjustments to the financing of a construction project that can result in added profits for the company involved, Coastal Construction, in this case, should a case be made that budget savings have been realized by working smarter, or finding cheaper suppliers.

Such orders involving sums less than $25,000 can be approved by Superintendent Mark Porter. Those orders that exceed that amount must be approved by the board.

Some of the HOB orders have generated controversy from board members such as John Dick and Ed Davidson, who have questioned whether the sources of some of the savings are legitimate, or detracting from the integrity of the project.

These more contentious orders aren't on today's agenda, but will be discussed anyway, Davidson said.

"Everybody involved with construction knows that change orders are where the profits are," he said. "The one that involves the parking lot is very troubling to me. The lot wasn't included in the bid, or the plans, but it should have, because it's mandatory to have it, built to ADA standards, before we can move the kids in. And now, we don't have the money."

Also on today's otherwise sparse board agenda is the renewal of the contract of District Finance Department worker Corey Wybensinger, who now lives in Ohio.

"It's been pulled from the consent agenda and put on the action agenda," Davidson said. "We've already hired somebody to do some of the work that Wybensinger seems to be contracted to do. It seems to me that we might be paying two people to do the same job. I think we should be looking into that instead of going the band-aid route of just approving it."

Another action item the board is scheduled to vote on today at the 5 p.m. meeting, is the superintendent's Student Progression Plan. The item is the yardstick the defines what students must do to advance grade levels in terms of both school years, and the marks they receive in their classes, Griffiths said.

"Generally, when we make adjustments to the plan, it's to ensure that it continues to be in compliance with state law, which may change. The superintendent has raised this issue. It's going to be a philosophical discussion about fairness."

Today's meeting will be the first since October that won't encompass both a workshop and formal action meeting.

"It looks like kind of a dull one to me," Griffiths said. "And we're due for one of those."

tschmida@keysnews.com

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