Middle school project change orders questioned

Zach Glenn, zglenn@therecordherald.com

Despite construction for the Waynesboro Area Middle School's expansion project coming in on time and using up only about 10 percent of the contingency fund, there is at least one board member who was not happy with the project's half-way point.

Leland Lemley objected that there were gas lines and electrical panels that were not notated on the bidding documents. Lemley suspects that this may have cost the district more in the long run. He said at Tuesday's meeting that parts of a project that are done in change orders typically cost more than parts done on the bidding.

The two items together are $16,429 in he $11.8 million project. Lemley believes that the $16,429 is two to three times what the change orders were actually worth.

"When you leave out omissions they weren't bid, that's your responsibility. (Your firm) left them out of the project. It wasn't that they weren't supposed to be in the drawing, it was supposed to be in the drawing," said Lemley.

Josh Bower of the district's architectural firm Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates countered by saying that the change orders had been done at the cost of only parts and labor.

"To have only spent 10 percent of your contingency with the problems that we've had during construction is really quite fantastic," said Bower.

Stephen Kulla, president of the board, asked Eric Holtzman, the district business administrator, and Jim Rock, the district's newly hired construction manager, to meet with the architectural firm and see if the change orders were done at cost. If not, a new price for the district to pay on that portion of the construction could be deliberated at a later date.

"We're going to go back and forth and not reaching any resolution on this ... this discourse is not going to reach a resolution right now," said Kulla, before proposing the two district personnel most closely associated with the project look into the costs.

The $11.8 million project includes a 24-classroom addition and renovating other parts of the building. The district plans to move sixth grade to the middle school, which currently houses seventh and eighth grades, at the start of the 2017-18 school year to help address overcrowding in district elementary schools.