The School Board is now on track to move past two contentious issues that have threatened to slow the construction of the new high school; the special use permit from the Town of Berryville and a resolution over the final fire flow solution. With the construction phase of the project approaching the School Board turned its attention, in part, to security considerations in the new building.
At last night’s meeting School Board Chairperson, Robina Bouffault presented revised construction easements prepared by site engineer, Jon Erikson. A comprehensive site easement plat is just one of several conditions required by the Town’s special use permit. Bouffault said that the in addition to the construction easements, the lighting plan and fire flow appear close to resolution, “All systems are go and we are pleased with our progress.”
While an agreement with the Town over fire flow appears to be close, there was disagreement within the School Board about the legal fees associated with the agreement. At issue is how to handle attorney Joe Luchini’s fees which appear to be higher than a “not to exceed amount” of $9,500 for fire flow work agreed to by the School Board.
Jennifer Welliver expressed concern that Mr. Luchini had exceeded the stipulated limit without contacting the School Board for approval. “We set a not-to-exceed amount for fire flow and said that he needed to come back to us if it was going to cost more. But he didn’t do this. We wouldn’t accept this kind of behavior from Gannett Fleming or Crabtree. When do we draw the line?”
Chairperson Bouffault defended Luchini’s approach likening it to not asking a surgeon to stop in the middle of an operation over cost. “You can’t expect an attorney to stop midway thru the day to re-calculate their hours. Attorneys estimate how much it will cost but it becomes difficult to hold them to a number when we are the ones requesting the changes.”
Other School Construction News
The School Board discussed a request by Clarke County Administrator David Ash to take advantage of trenching associated with school construction to relocate County sewer lines. Bouffault said the School Board would take the request under consideration provided that it did not slow down the school completion schedule.
School Superintendent, Dr. Mike Murphy reported that school staff is reviewing the use and placement of security cameras in the new building. “We’re having a second set of eyes look at the CRA security plan,” Murphy said. “We want to make sure that whatever equipment is installed is internet protocol accessible and can be monitored by central alarm through the school system’s fiber backbone.”
The School Board unanimously approved invoices totaling $153K for Crabtree Rohrbach & Associates, $17K for Gannett Fleming and $21,704.35 for ReedSmith, Attorney Luchini’s employer.