Citizens groups, as well as firms representing more than two years of work on ECISD’s bond issue, say the project has been an “unqualified success,” in terms of management, planning and implementation.
Broaddus and Associates, the management firm charged with overseeing the district’s bond projects, will present $2.8 million back to Edinburg schools in the form of a certificate of value-added savings this month.
District officials have not confirmed the day when the certificate will be presented to the board, but the event will likely take place at their regular meeting on Nov. 9.
Funds stem from more than $14 million in savings from the district’s $112 million bond issue passed in 2008, according to Broaddus. More than $11 million of that has already been spent by the district for property purchases, additional square footage for middle schools, and paid for Broaddus’ fees.
“We did not cut corners, and we didn’t compromise” said Gilbert Gallegos, senior vice president at Broaddus when asked whether the savings could impact the quality of school construction.
“One of the biggest things we have accomplished was to go Construction Manager At-Risk,” Gallegos said, referring to the method of contract delivery for projects. Using the process, contractors that bid on projects were held responsible for keeping costs within the district’s budget.
“There has been a desire by the Bond Oversight Committee and the board to be as transparent and open as possible, which allows an open book situation where you get to see contractors numbers,” Gallegos said. “I think this is probably the first school district I am aware of in the Valley that has used CM-At Risk and an open book process to be able to give savings back to the owners.”
Board Trustees, as well as representatives on the district’s Facilities Committee and citizens Bond Oversight Committee, are currently in talks to determine where the $2.8 million eventually ends up.
At issue, according to representatives on the BOC, is whether that money goes to existing structures, specifically renovations to the current Harwell campus and others, or towards the construction of the district’s upcoming fourth high school, which would be paid, possibly using the savings from the bond as well as through general fund dollars.
“Should we spend the $2.8 million on existing structures, or on new structures,” asked BOC co-chair Bryant Morrison. “We always knew that there wasn’t enough money for a fourth high school (but) the Bond Oversight Committee is split.”
The BOC was formed in 2008, at the same time the district’s $112 million bond issue was enacted, to enable transparency throughout the process, which included the construction of schools, relative fine arts facilities and renovation of the current Harwell complex.
The BOC was influential in the selection of the construction project management firm, as well as the necessary architects, engineers and contractors needed to complete the project.
“The work on the bond issue, in terms of the management, planning, implementation and openings of the schools has been an unqualified success,” said Frank Quajardo, co-chair of the citizens Bond Oversight Committee.
“What we are doing right now is catching up from the last five or six years. The fact we did, and we did it right, is very important from a political standpoint,” Guajardo said. “Political means how the community sees activity … there was no improper behavior that was fiscal or managerial or administrative.
“The greater meaning is we need to build public support because there is much more work to be done,” Guajardo said.