Building Budget Gains from Construction Oversight Changes

Gannett-Fleming, the Clarke County School Board’s project management consultant for the new school, has offered a $307K cost reduction in exchange for providing reduced oversight during the school construction process. The Clarke County Board of Supervisors has tentatively agreed to allow the County’s Building Inspector, Gary Pope, to participate in oversight of the project and will waive charge-back fees for Pope’s

The cost savings stem from the School Board’s decision to substitute a general contractor for the building project in place of the originally envisioned use  of multiple prime contractors. The new approach will shift much of the site management responsibility away from Gannett-Fleming to a yet-to-be-selected general contractor. The cost reduction offered by Gannett-Fleming is in response to a request by the School Board for a fee reduction commensurate with the changes in responsibility.

However, Joint Administrative Services Director Tom Judge reminded the School Board that the reduced fee meant that Gannett-Fleming’s involvement in the project will change.

“Gannett-Fleming is significantly reducing it’s oversight of the school. Instead of providing a senior engineer we’ll be getting a general construction manager.  Senior management review from Gannett-Fleming will also be reduced. The School Board is replacing a Cadillac with a Chevy here.” Judge said.

The School Board hopes that much of the oversight responsibility deficit for the project will shift to County Building Inspector, Gary Pope. Pope is currently under-employed due to the Clarke County’s depressed housing market.

“The Board of Supervisors has tentatively agreed to allow [Pope] the latitude to be present at the construction site when he deems it necessary, in addition to his normal inspection times, to observe construction and alert our Construction Manager about any concerns that he may have,” School Board Chairperson Bouffault said in document that she presented to the School Board Monday evening.

Clarke County has indicated that it will not seek payment for Pope’s services from the School Board as was previously being considered. According to Bouffault the expense of using Pope’s services will be covered by approximately $150K in building fees already required by the County for the new school.

While Bouffault described Pope’s involvement as “a cost-free pair of experienced and qualified eyes to help identify and correct any problems before they become critical and [that] could cause delays and/or additional expense” Clarke County Supervisor Chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville) stopped short of fully endorsing Bouffault’s characterization of Pope’s involvement.

“We have an obligation and a duty to enforce the building codes. Beyond that we want to be sensitive to the School Board’s needs. Gary will be alert and helpful to the extent that be is able.” Hobert said that there is no formal contract for services between the School Board and the County.

In the event of future construction difficulties, Gannett-Fleming’s cost reduction offer (which was negotiated with Gannett-Fleming’s participation and agreement that its construction oversight responsibilities will be offset, in part, by a Clarke County employee) could open the door for future disputes about which organization is ultimately responsible for identifying contractual performance violations. The lack of a formal service agreement between the School Board and Clarke County could mean that some of the responsibility (and risk) formerly held by Gannett-Fleming has not been contractually transferred to any other party.

Whether the risks associated with reduced construction contract oversight services from Gannett-Fleming have been adequately addressed through the County’s offer of Mr. Pope’s services will be considered at the School Board’s May 5th meeting.

School Construction Notes: Helpful Info for Following the School Construction Bidding Process

As the School Board approaches its end-of-April goal for issuing school construction bid-documents Clarke Daily News readers may find it helpful to understand the terms and acronyms associated with the procurement process:

Document Name Purpose
A-232 General Conditions for the Construction Contract (also includes “Supplemental” conditions)
C-132 Agreement between School Board (Owner) and Construction Manager as Advisor
A-701 Instructions to Bidders
A-310 Bid Bond requirements (often a surety bond issued by an insurance company or a bank as financial guarantee that a contractor will enter into a contract if it is awarded to the firm)
A-312 Performance Bond requirements (often a surety bond issued by an insurance company or a bank to guarantee satisfactory completion of a project by a contractor)
Public Advertisement For Bids Solicitation for proposals will be publically requested through multiple channels including Clarke County’s website and other media outlets


  1. Ok, so we’re transferring responsibility and risk to the invisible man?

    If I’m Mr. Pope, I’m preparing my resume – for certainly he will be held liable in the court of public opinion, regardless of what he has been “contractually” obligated to do. Meanwhile, a convenient veil of “he was supposed to catch these things” has been constructed by our keystone cops, with no teeth to be able to recoup those issues should something be missed.

    Cut rate planning from bargain basement able representatives. Maybe we need AP and IB level courses for School Board members? Do they really harbor such hubris as to believe they are doing an adequate job?

    • Jim Gibson says:

      This is indeed a slippery slope. While it’s good that Mr. Pope will now have a “full” schedule to justify his “full” salary (offset with the $150K already paid by the School Board in permit fees, etc.), it’s a risky situation to create. One question unasked in the article – how was Clarke County affording Mr. Pope’s full salary before this plan was floated, if he was so “underutilized” due to the deflated housing market in the county? And, if they’re going to use the $150K already spent on fees to compensate him for his time, how is it “free” time?

      One of the few good things ot come of this is that, despite all of the headaches, none of the old SB members can be blamed if this new high school looks like it was done on the cheap. That will fall squarely on Ms. Bouffault and the current board, as it is their legacy. I hope they bear that in mind as they set up such a gamble as this seems to be.

  2. Clarke County Caucasian says:

    Mr. Ash, quick question for you. Did you know about the $150,000 worth of fees that were already being taken from the school budget when you floated the idea of charging for Mr. Pope’s time? I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt on this but it just doesn’t cast a very good light on the County administrative staff when these kinds of ideas get tossed around. Does anyone care that each dollar skimmed from the school budget by Berryville Town Council and Clarke County Government reduces the amount of resources that can be spent on our students?

  3. Tony Parrott says:

    Here is a question for everyone. Do you think Ms. Bouffault clearly understood this property was within the town limits and therefore would fall under the town and county requirements? Do you think she clearly understood all the fees and responsibilities that would come with the purchase of this property?
    I believe so! When Bouffault made the pitch to the supervisors on this site her selling point was “94 residential home lots will be extinguished”. How do I know this? I was at the meeting.
    Now the interesting thing was the section called “Excluded Items” for the Ketoctin site. These were specifically excluded in the cost opinion. Things like the relocation of the low pressure water pipeline, Mosby, Early, VDOT intersection improvements, etc…. Matter of fact every document I have regarding this site clearly points out all these requirements so they should have never been a surprise.
    So when I hear a reduction of resources spent on our students I agree. My next question is how much more time and money will this lady cost us?

    • Right Winger says:

      Personally, I say raise the taxes to where they need to be so we can build a Cadillac to make up for the [redacted] Yugo that was built before.

      • ann alderman says:

        Man, I am just trying to get used to re-aligning my assumptions about “right” and “left” here.

        • Right Winger says:

          Just because I’m a right winger, doesn’t mean I’m against raising taxes for something that aboslutely needs to be done.

          • ann alderman says:

            It is comforting to hear that. It is sometimes hard to tell based on the party line. Note that my comment below came after my comment above and before your response.

            It is always good to let go of sterotypes.

      • ann alderman says:

        or are you being ironic?

    • Bond, James Bond says:

      I also have a question for everyone. Absent the Ketoctin purchase, where do you suppose we would be? I would guess that we would be spending building funds to mitigate Karst faults and defending lawsuits from downstream residents of the storm water runoff from the Salvation Army site. (Assuming that the Salvation Army and Betty Casey received each and every concession that they demanded to finally transfer the deed.) I believe that the Clarke County Education Foundation is still being stiffed for the cost of relocating the outfall line from Mrs. Casey’s land for the Berryville treatment plant without any benefit from that concession.

      As far as the town’s requirements for the site, the need to replace the water line was identified to the town some twenty years ago, long before this project’s inception. The Mosby requirement was in a planning document- subject to modification and revision, not a point of law. Yet the BADA members treated it as though it came down from the Mount carved in stone tablets. When Ms. Bouffault attempted to negotiate these points, she found she was dealing with a group who made narcissism look like a mere nervous tic.

      At the end of the day, we have a site, an architect’s plan and a site plan approval subject to fire flow criteria. Given the history, what is so bad about that?

      • Jim Gibson says:

        There’s nothing “so bad about that,” in the big-picture sense. I still am concerned that the design is still inadequate, but at least it maintains the ability to be expanded if (or, more accurately, when) such expansion is warranted.

        My hope is that folks in this great community of ours get over the turf-war mentality that turned this process into a frustrating 10-year ordeal. There really is no excuse for the infighting, political gamesmanship, and other antics that went on (real or perceived) that have caused so many senior classes to go without a top-flight high school.

        I appreciate Dr. Murphy’s efforts to steer this project through all of the contentiousness. Now, let’s turn some dirt and make this a building to be proud of!

      • Tony Parrott says:

        Sorry, do you recall the stance Ms. Bouffault took with Mr. Echols when she was on the BADA? Let me help you out: Ms. Bouffault made the motion that denied a revised plat dated Jan 27, 2006 based on several reasons. One being “Failure to provide for the extension and dedication on Mosby Boulevard to Business Route 7”
        I call this playing both sides of the fence what do you say?

        • Adam Deerfield says:

          It sounds perfectly reasonable to me. The whole problem with Mosby is when Echols was developing the land it was a subdivision, now it is a high school campus. It is a completely different situation and to continue down a path that puts a “Major Collector Road” through the middle of a high school property simply because it was already in the plan is ludicrous.

          • Tony Parrott says:

            Not sure I would call it a “Major Collector Road” but the fact is Mosby is going to go through. I would much rather see it done with VA funds; NO LOCAL MONEY. Also the completion of Mosby would save the school budget on entrances.

            James Bond asked where we would be but implied SA was the only other choice. Bird property ring a bell?

            My original point was not to get back into a debate on the merits of Mosby or site location; its irrelevant. To me this project has fallen behind and I don’t believe it had to. The fighting over KNOWN issues has cost us (tax payers) time and money. Frankly I didn’t care where the school gets build only that it is done right. It is sorely needed and long overdue.

            My opinion is Ms. Bouffault has never been part of the solution but rather the problem. She was against school construction before she was for it; for Mosby before she was against it. I don’t find these traits trustworthy. Sorry if I offend anyone, just my opinion.

          • Adam Deerfield says:

            “Major Collector Road” is what the Town had to call it to qualify for VDOT funds. Does that sound like something that belongs in the middle of a high school?
            It’s a moot point the easements been filed.
            The point is, adapting to current factors is not duplicitous, it is what any elected official should do.

          • Tony Parrott says:

            Elected officials can change their minds with good reason. They should also be prepared to explain the process of how they changed their mind. That’s also part of being an elected official.

            Trust but verify; as you can tell I’m past the trusting stage.

        • Bond, James Bond says:

          I call it situational awareness. The proposed use for the land changed, so why is it not reasonable that the required infrastructure surrounding it might change?

          If you were on an airplane on short final and the pilot saw a deer on the runway, would you propose that he continue the approach, since that was the plan he started with?

          • Tony Parrott says:

            Situational awareness? You got me; that was by far the funniest thing I have read all morning. I suppose John Kerry should have used that line before he was against what he was for.
            Sending secret emails asking town officials not to mention Mosby because it will “queer the deal” isn’t situational awareness. Neither is having an all out war for several months costing the tax payers time and money situational awareness. No this is not situational awareness or adapting to current factors.

            Now as for your airplane; I would need more information. Alt, airspeed, runway length and what type plane am I flying? I like to have more data before making any decisions. Oh ya, did I know the deer was standing on the runway when I took off from my original destination?

          • Bond, James Bond says:

            Wow, I didn’t think making an analogy would get this complicated. Well, here goes.

            You are in a Cessna P210 on night precision approach to Key West, Rwy 09, 4800’ x 100’. Weather is winds calm, ceiling 300 broken, RVR 2400’. Temperature-dew point spread 2 DegF. You break out at Decision Height+1’ over the numbers and flip on the landing light. You see the deer 300’ down from the touchdown zone. You now have two seconds to do your afore mentioned considered analysis of the situation and retain your original plan or adopt a new one. Also, some additional questions that you did not ask- where is the deer going to run? – don’t know. How many more are in the herd?- Don’t know. Every flight instructor I have ever had says go around (change the plan).

            Now back to my original point which is that changing circumstances require changing your approach to the problem. In the case of the extension of Mosby, BADA and the town are hell-bent to pound their square-pegged plan into the round-holed present situation. I have a poster in my garage that shows a group of men fleeing from a stampede of irate bulls at the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. The caption reads “Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly stupid”. I think it fits the Mosby extension plan to a T.

            And in closing, how do you take off from your destination?

          • Lonnie Bishop says:

            Well put, Mr. Bond.

          • Adam Deerfield says:

            “Negative Ghost Rider. The pattern is full”

          • Tony Parrott says:

            Well James I was laughing so hard while typing and not thinking straight. I’m sure you understood.

            I believe you also understand a road that was on the books for 17 years (right or wrong) is not situational awareness. It’s not the same as a deer jumping in front of you Cessna. No surprise here.

  4. Dave Diamantes says:

    Under Virginia law, every local government must appoint a Building Official or contract for the service with another locality. Virginia has a mandatory, uniform building code that cannot be amended locally. The code in Clarke County is the same code used in Norfolk, Richmond, Bristol or Roanoke and every other political subdivision within the Commonwealth. The Clarke County Building Official is the only person who has the authority to approve the construction plans, issue the building permit and inspect and approve the actual construction. He can accept (and in fact require)approval of certain features such as steel,concrete or geotechnical items by 3rd party engineers that he approves. But he’s still the approval authority. Until the Building Official approves the structure, it is illegal to occupy it. You can find the Statute (§ 36-97) at the General Assembly’s Legislative Information System website. You can read the Uniform Statewide Building Code here: