WINNSBORO — As design continues on a new career center for the Fairfield County School District, the school board has learned from MBAJ company representatives that the project is under budget by $500,000.
The MBAJ budget is a budget by design, meaning the allocated money has not yet been spent. The total project cost is $15.8 million and of that $12 million goes to brick and mortar on the building. Representatives for the company said they are at the point they could do conceptual drawings with the career center. Bidding for the project should start in February or March.
The group reported additional survey work had to be done on site as part of the big picture to let the S.C. Department of Transportation know how buses and vehicles could still circulate in the area during the construction phase and later when the new career center was in place.
DOT looked at the site and in two to three months there will be another review of the site. A design review workshop is set for Jan. 6.
The representative from MBAJ said the company will continue to produce work that is functional but within budget. Part of the budget includes upgradable space.
The second floor of the proposed building contains health sciences classroom space, CAD class space and a lounge that can be used for community functions when school is not in session. The second floor contains a significant amount of flex space (300,000 square feet) because the career center needs to be able to change to fit community needs over time.
The goal conceptually is for the center to be a beacon for the district and a place to feature forward thinking STEM-oriented programs.
Superintendent J.R. Green said the district is exploring adding other areas such as biomedical and megatronics. He also said the barber/cosmetology department could offer services to the public after hours.
In the opinion of the MBAJ officials, the district would get better quality contractors using a proposal process rather than a low bid process. Use of contractors and the type of bidding process will be a topic of discussion at the January board work session.
No action can be taken at the session. Voting will be held at the next public school board meeting.
Another key vote at the December board meeting was on a district Procurement Card (P-Card) program with Bank of America. That motion passed 4-3 with Henry Miller, Bobby Cunningham, William Frick, Beth Reid voting for it and Andrea Harrison, Paula Hartman, Annie McDaniel opposed.
The procurement card has a limit of $2,500 per purchase or up to $3,000 outstanding balance on a card at one time. One card will be issued per school initially with plans to later include transportation, food services and maintenance departments.
Green said this program would be phased in and that advantages were by having this tool the district could better work with local vendors.
Finance Director Kevin Robinson said the principals have latitude with purchase order requirements under the P-Card program and said the new program would be easier to use and quicker than the previous system.
He emphasized that it is not a credit card but helps expedite the process. If an individual made purchases and could not supply receipts, he or she would be responsible for payment of the bill via payroll deduction.
“I appreciate the board’s concern but am optimistic people will do the right thing and behave in an appropriate manner (with the procurement cards),” Green said. “If I can trust (you) with my girls, I should be able to trust you with $2,500.”
In other business:
• The board ratified the Griffin Bow Tie Club field trip request to Charlotte on Dec. 14 by a 6-0-1 vote with McDaniel abstaining.
• First reading of Board Policy and Administrative Rule JAAB & JAAB-R, Service Animals passed unanimously. The policy would allow students with medical needs to utilize a variety of service animals per the ADA requirements.
• Two budget transfers passed 5-2 with Harrison and McDaniel opposed.
• The board unanimously approved certified resignations, certified recommendations, certified stipends and the recommendation for a new certified position.
• The board entered Executive Session for legal, personnel, and contractual matters as well as a student hearing appeal request. No action was taken in executive session and no votes were held after the board emerged from executive session.
• Green congratulated the Griffins football team on a 13-1 season and its Upper State AA Championship.
• The board will have a Jan. 11 work session.