Toledo Board of Education members rejected demolition contracts for five schools Monday and adopted a resolution requiring the projects to be broken down into multiple bid packages, allowing for greater participation of local contractors.
Steven Steel, board president, said the move will provide more local contractors the opportunity to bid for the district's Building for Success demolition projects.
"The ultimate goal is to give smaller, local contractors the opportunity to take part in the building program," Mr. Steel said.
In the past, some have criticized the district for not following through with a goal to increase participation of minority contractors in the $640 million building program. Last month, TPS board member Jack Ford said at a meeting that he expected to see the construction jobs broken down to give minority-owned businesses a chance to bid on them.
Mr. Steel said there is no guarantee that local contractors will be awarded the bids, but he said the resolution that was passed Monday at least provides them with the opportunity.
John Gilliland, the district's chief business manager, said the demolition projects will be divided into three and possibly four smaller contracts.
There would be one contract for building cleanup, another for the actual demolition, and a third for site demolition, including removal of parking lots and curbs.
A fourth contract would be available for landscaping unless a school is slated to be constructed on the site, Mr. Gilliland said.
Mr. Ford said Monday that dividing the contracts into smaller pieces provides an effective way for the district to work with minority contractors.
He noted that school levies are passed largely by support from minority communities and it's only fair that those contractors have the opportunity to bid on projects they supported.
"They don't have the capacity to go after the real big ones," Mr. Ford said. "It might be a $400,000 job, but by breaking it into smaller pieces - four or five $50,000 jobs - it's easier for the minority and smaller entrepreneurs to bid on a job like that."
The five schools scheduled to be demolished are Birmingham, Elmhurst, Riverside, and Walbridge elementary schools and Bowsher High School.
Matt Richards, project director with Lathrop Grant Barton Malow - the district's construction management firm for the building program - said rebidding the demolition contracts will push back completion dates for new schools.
"We were anticipating construction taking place early this summer, but that will be delayed because of the delay in demolition," he said.
Mr. Richards also said the projected completion of the Scott High School renovation would be extended to May, 2012. It had been scheduled to be completed by December, 2011.
Mr. Richards could not provide reasons yesterday for delay of the Scott renovation.
"I don't see how one deals with the other," said board member Lisa Sobecki. "If we have to adjust when we send bid packages out for demolition, that shouldn't affect the Scott project."
Mr. Steel said: "I don't see any relationship between a demolition anywhere in the city and the renovation of Scott."
Mr. Richards said a revised schedule would be available for board members at the next school facilities commission meeting.
Board member Darlene Fisher presented a letter from the facilities commission that stated any delays or postponements of projects after the projected completion date of Dec. 31, 2011, increase the risk of reduced enrollment and loss of about $23.5 million.
"We are exceptionally proud of the Toledo School projects and are anxious to help the district receive the maximum level of funding for which they qualify," Executive Director Michael Shoemaker wrote in an April 9 letter.
"However, any potential delays may require difficult decisions that are not in the best financial interests of the district."
Mr. Steel said board members expect the bid process to be expedited in an effort to stay on schedule.
"All this means is that our construction managers have to be diligent that we stay on a time line," he said. "We'll have to work to adjust the schedules and make sure we stay on track."
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