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Replacement Newton High to cost $500K more than expected

COVINGTON -- The replacement Newton High School project will cost approximately a half million dollars more than originally expected due to an oversight.

Dr. Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent of operations for the Newton County School System, reported to the Newton County Board of Education last week that his department failed to include the cost of athletic field lighting in the project bid.

"It was our oversight," he told the board during its monthly meeting last week.

Based on the mistake, Superintendent Gary Mathews, who was not present at the meeting due to health reasons, recommended that the board approve a change order for the installation of lighting for the practice field and football field at the new school site. The board unanimously approved the project; board Vice Chair Jeff Meadors was absent from the meeting due to a family issue.

The total cost of the installation of lighting is $539,143 and will be paid for using capital project funds, which must be used for construction projects. McKnight Construction Company Inc., which is the general contractor for the replacement project, submitted a cost proposal for the lighting project and will complete the work.

Carpenter said that the additional cost will not put the project over budget.

"All of our school district's capital projects include a line item in the project budget for contingencies," he said in an email after the meeting. "The greater the scope of the project, the larger the contingency line item amount."

He said the NHS replacement project is budgeted to cost $54,100,000 with $1 million, or 1.88 percent of the project, budgeted for contingencies.

"This lighting change order that had to be approved by the board given board policy is neither uncommon or impactful from a budgetary standpoint when put into the proper context," he said in the email.

The new school is scheduled to open in time for the start of the 2013-14 school year. The site is located on nearly 118 acres of land on Crowell Road North that also fronts Jack Neely Road.

Carpenter also reported at the meeting that all building and retaining walls have been completed at the new school. Additionally, slabs are being formed and completed this month, and plumbing and electrical underground work is near completion.

Metal roofing also is being installed at this time.

On the sports fields, final irrigation is being installed, and the field turf is scheduled to be placed in the next month.

Carpenter said the project is on schedule and that project meetings are being held each month.

Comments

amp72 2 years, 1 month ago

It may not have impacted the overall budget, but it is clear a HUGE mistake was made. But I guess it's my fault since I am one of the "evil bloggers." Someone clearly needs to focus less on me and more on doing his job.

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John 2 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like the original budget had a a lot of extra "fat" if a .5 million dollar plus oversight (a.k.a. mistake, error or Poor Project Planning (aka PPP)) can be covered within the original budget. This error does not fall in the category of a contingency which is by definition: A future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty. It falls in the category of PPP period.

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SharonBlock 2 years, 1 month ago

Well John it seems it had alot of extra crap all the way around. PPP is right. It seems to me that if there were more focus where it should be instead where it shouldn't be like this goofy law suit then maybe just maybe things would get on track and maybe poor planning would be on target planning and get yeah well we will see.

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CadyJackson 2 years, 1 month ago

If I made a mistake of 1% of that amount, I would be out of a job. Maybe if someone were paying attention to their duties and not constantly perusing the want ads....

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Conservative 2 years, 1 month ago

And the hits just keep on coming! "This lighting change order that had to be approved by the board given board policy is neither uncommon or impactful from a budgetary standpoint when put into the proper context," he said in the email."

Most Engineers would be fired on the spot for this "oversight".

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dennistay53 2 years, 1 month ago

This is constructive criticism. I do not think that it is acceptable for someone in this high of a position and being paid this kind of taxpayer dollars to make this huge of a budget mistake. You would think that something like the cost of building a high school would be looked over many times and by more than one person before submitting. In light of this as well as the roads not being ready for the 142 bypass last year i would suggest this. Maybe if this person would spend more time with his job at NCSS and less time hunting a higher job all over the country, and less time involved in a lawsuit against citizens, these mistakes wouldn't happen. I don't think these mistakes are the fault of Jeff Meadors or the posters are they? Wonder what the board members have to say about these mistakes?

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livingart 2 years, 1 month ago

well stated - may be it is time to start at the top admin to BOE and begin reassessing the people making decisions concerning education matters in Newton County.

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Billy 2 years, 1 month ago

Spend, spend, spend. Home schooling and private schooling are better alternatives. The public education monster consumes hard earned tax money and turns out gangs, dropouts, and lawsuit happy staff. With the internet, it's now possible to study at home in virtual classrooms. The end of unproductive public education is probably no where near, but as far as results, it should be...

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Frustrated 2 years, 1 month ago

A $539,143 omission from the original proposal is not uncommon? I hate to think how much more money has been wasted using this logic.

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henrystamm 2 years, 1 month ago

Any other private business this guy would have lost his job, but at the Newton BOE that is normal. Amazing!

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Peggy 2 years, 1 month ago

Gosh, some oversight. I've had colleagues fired for smaller oversights than this. Maybe he's concentrating on something else and not paying attention to the details. I guess my question is, if it is being covered by the original budget, does that mean something else is getting cut, and if so, what, and how much is it going to cost me and the other taxpayers?

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Watermelonlover 2 years, 1 month ago

MAN  UP Matthews and FIRE Carpenter over this - how much more do we not know?  We saw him underestimate bus driver pay 2 months ago to the tune of more than 400 thousand dollars - he is not competent IMO.

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UGAFan 2 years, 1 month ago

Not a Carpenter fan, BUT...If anyone has EVER looked at a construction bid, details, plan, blueprints, etc it is very easy to miss something and in this case a 500k something. Chances are Mr. Carpenter was not the one looking over the details of the plan, but only approving them based on his employees review. In this case, Carpenter gets a yellow card instead of a red card.

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John 2 years, 1 month ago

IMHO someone who his responsible for this error of omission needs to get the "red card". This is the 3rd new high school built since 1996 - all have athletic fields with lighting. If this was a first time event, I might be able to understand and side with you but there were two prior practice runs (Eastside & Alcovy both similar type facilities) - these should have served as "practice" runs to remove any "bugs". And I realize that "practice does not make perfect" but "perfect practice does". Someone in the hierarchy of things needs to man up & be accountable for not paying attention to details & not play "sugar coat" the error. This $539,000+ could have been used for some other constructive purpose or saved for a "rainy" day. By they way, those complex constructions bids, details, plans, blue prints, etc. I would think are based on the specifications set forth by the buyer, in this case, the BOE and/or BOC.

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UGAFan 2 years, 1 month ago

I am not totally disagreeing with you and yes it is his department, but a Manager is only as good as their employees. I am not certain if D.C. was even in his position when AHS and EHS were built, maybe-maybe not. I am not saying its his fault and I am not saying it isnt... It was a whole bunch of peoples fault.

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John 2 years, 1 month ago

One would think that the records (bid specs, costs, contracts, etc. etc.) for the EHS, AHS projects would still be available for any current employee to review and serve as a good road map to follow for current or future similar projects. History is often a very good teacher. When someone doesn't stand-up and be counted there is always a lot of finger pointing and no one wants to be accountable for the results. I was a project/product/sales manager for 31+ years and had direct & indirect staff reporting to me. I was the one accountable for the final results - good or less than good - and always kept my resume up to date.

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RetiredGuy 2 years, 1 month ago

$5 hundred thousand dollars for lighting a sports field of a $54 million dollar high school? Looks like actual education of students doesn't even get second place in the minds of the Newton County school board. What kind of edifice is Newton County building? It certainly is not to education.

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ShannonBlack 2 years, 1 month ago

@amp I have to agree I guess it is both of our faults that the huge oversight was made I guess we have kept them so distracted that it is messing with the budget now. If the focus was where it should be which is not on us then maybe just maybe it would be closer to target. However when you want to google spy on everyone and know when we go to the bathroom and when don't then that's nobody's fault but your own. I think the dogs need to be called off and focus on our kids and their education.

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John 2 years, 1 month ago

FYI you or amp can't take the blame for this oversight. The new AHS project was approved long before the "lawsuit drama" thing started, like January, 2011 (that's when the land was purchased).

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Frustrated 2 years, 1 month ago

better be careful Dennis might try to sue next

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Satan69 2 years, 1 month ago

@ Frustrated I already think dennis IS the plaintiff haha

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gsm7476 2 years, 1 month ago

I think yall have all wrong Mathews is were the 500,000 buck stops he is the man in charge. He needs to tell the taxpayers what happen and why and if not he needs to go.

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amp72 2 years, 1 month ago

Citizens need to line up for the next BOE meeting in August and demand answers, not just to this but to everything going on. Why is the BOE commenting on the lawsuit when it does not even concern the BOE? Why are mistakes like the stadium lighting being made? Is it because of the distraction caused by the lawsuit, which is something Mathews could have stopped long, long ago? Who is really behind the lawsuit?

It seems to me the NCSS is hoping this will just go away once school starts and people will focus on something else. This is too important. The first step citizens can take is to vote in new faces and voices and then demand answers at BOE meetings.

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ShannonBlack 2 years, 1 month ago

@ Amp you are so right if we don't demand answers we won't get it. However on the other hand there isn't a 100% guarantee that we will get the answers we want either , but we will never know unless we try. You are getting to something though who is behind this law suit does anyone really know anymore? It is always the people you don't think are behind it that are. It is to bad though that all of this had been a fraud since the start it's just a shame I have to say. Why not play fair? Quit adding and taking things from it to make it better.

Yes I think that is the best thing to do demand answers and vote new faces in that would alleviate some tensions and stop the oh he hates me and talks about me and e does this and that. So childish.

This is not just going to go away if anything it may get worse when school starts.

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ShannonBlack 2 years, 1 month ago

@frustrated and Satan I think you all are both so 100% right I think dennis is the real plaintiff and everybody should be careful cause he just may try to sue if this plan back fires which it pretty much has already.

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georgianbuckeye 2 years, 1 month ago

What kind of lighting are they using that costs 539,143 dollars? Are the lights made out of gold and platinum. Could they not find anything cheaper.

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