Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 at 2:21pm

Eustis Heights Elementary School Renovation Project Approved — Many Questions Remain

Posted by admin

Last week, the Lake County School Board unanimously approved the $12.6 million Eustis Heights Elementary School renovation project.  Although on the surface it appears there was a victory for fiscal responsibility, many questions remain.  Since we have reported on this project as well as the Umatilla Middle School project, there has been a growing angst in the community over the Lake County School District’s lack of fiscal responsibility; failure to hire local companies; and sheer incompetence when it comes to the bidding process.  The main driver behind this project was School Board member Kyleen Fischer who, it appears in her zeal to construct this project, literally gave tax dollars away.

We are not sure if fiscal responsibility really did occur, because the original contract with AllState Construction, Inc. out of Tallahassee was $12.6 million, while the new contract is for the same amount with a caveat that the price may increase by $2 million.  We are not sure why the contract price was not reduced.  We have emailed this question to school officials, and have not received a response.

In the New Contract

The new contract contains several significant changes, which were pushed by School Board Members Bill Mathias and Tod Howard with absolutely no help from fellow School Board Members Rosanne Brandeburg and Kyleen Fischer.  Let’s not forget that Lake County School District construction staff under Chief Operating Officer John Davis urged passage of the old contract at a much higher cost.  Here are the primary differences in the contracts:

  • AllState Construction’s general conditions under the old contract were $1,263,743.  In the new contract, the amount has been lowered to $722,627–a savings of $541,116.
  • Gone in the new contract is $133,230 in “other items” costs, which included $128,000 for relocating workers to Lake County–more savings.
  • The profit and overhead percentage amount in the old contract was 5.85%, which for a $12,640,000 project would be $739,440.  In the new contract the profit and overhead was reduced to 4.25% or $537,200.  This saves taxpayers $202,240.
  • What did not change is the 1.5% for owner’s contingency and 2.5% for the construction manager’s contingency.  These are the amounts for foul-ups and omissions.  For all of the planning and experts involved in this project, the amount is huge–$505,600!

According to the contracts, the Lake County School District should save $743,356 in profits and overhead–money that would have been paid to the construction manager– AllState Construction, Inc. out of Tallahassee.  If School Board Members Fischer and Brandeburg and COO Davis had their way, this money would have been paid to the contractor.  School Board Member Mathias brought the issue forward and School Board Member Howard stood with Mathias for fiscal responsibility.

Fischer Blamed for Overruns

As the heat intensified on COO Davis and his construction team, he was quick to the throw School Board Member Fischer under the bus for cost overruns on the Eustis Heights Elementary School renovation project.  Multiple sources close to the District told us that Davis said as much as $200,000 in costs were added to the project based on special design requests made by Fischer.

School Board Member Howard questioned COO Davis several weeks ago on why established prototypes were not used at Eustis Heights Elementary School, and Davis never gave a straight answer.  Many familiar with the project and School Board Member Fischer’s involvement theorize her passion for the project’s quick approval was to mask her role in the design, which created the huge cost overrun.  From day one, Fischer voted “yes” on the project and she desperately wanted to get the discussion of money behind her.

The voters and taxpayers of Lake County won’t get the final cost for the project until sometime later, when “A Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) amendment will be presented to the Board at a future date upon completion of the Drawings and Specifications.”  However, they can be rest assured that Fischer will be there with her “yes” vote to spend.

Teachers Should Learn Construction to Make More in Lake County

The Lake County School Board has promised no raises for teachers and they are threatening to layoff 59 others to cover a possible $16 million shortfall in the budget.  On the contrary, when it comes to construction salaries the District spares no expense.  Under the contract they have just signed with AllState Construction, Inc. they are paying top dollar for their employees for this 68 week long (one year and four months) project.  Below are actual salaries being paid to AllState, which have been approved by the Lake County School Board:

  • Project Manager – Keith Hendry – $220,887.04 for 64 weeks (or $3,451.36 per week)
  • Assistant Project Manager/Project Engineer – Tom Campbell – $150,960.00 for 68 weeks (or $2,220 per week)
  • Project Superintendent – Jason Woods – $194,436.48 for 68 weeks (or $2,859.36 per week)
  • Project Administrator – Local Hire – $75,776.00 for 64 weeks (or $1,184 per week)

Plus all three men get some form of vehicle or fuel allowance.

Here is the question of the day:  While teachers are not getting pay raises and they are facing layoffs, does it seem fitting that the Lake County School Board did not challenge the rates being paid to AllState employees?  The District pays the best and buys the best in everything, except when it comes to teacher’s salaries.  Is this fair?  As a teacher, would you rather work in a regular building without extra Fischer designs and make more money?

Davis Has Got to Go

This new contract demonstrates above everything else that Lake County School District Chief Operating Officer John Davis has got to go.  School Board Members Mathias and Howard drove this contract price down; and, if not for the intransigence of the other school board members the price would have gone lower on rebid.  It cannot be forgotten that Davis said they had negotiated the best deal for the District on the first contract, which was $743,356 higher after Mathias and Howard got involved.  We’ve asked this question before, “How many times can John Davis be wrong until he is terminated by Superintendent Dr. Susan Moxley?”  His proven failures will soon become hers if she fails to take action.

Finally

The District claims to be charting a new course when it comes to local purchasing and construction.  In Thursday’s edition of The Right Side of the Lake we are going to explore their new path to see if they have taken a new direction or the same old way.  There have been so many failures in leadership regarding the Eustis Heights Elementary School renovation project; however, one thing is for sure—School Board Members Mathias and Howard earned their salaries for the next four years with this one.  We are going to be closely monitoring this project to see if the cost comes in below $12 million.  We hope the District is not going to be socked $2 million more for the custom-Kyleen-Fischer design!

We would like to hear from you on today’s newsletter.  Go to www.lakecountygov.info and let us know what you think.  You can leave a comment on this newsletter, or you can click on the “What’s on Your Mind?” button to leave a comment about something you feel strongly about.

The easiest and fastest way to get your copy of The Right Side of the Lake is to “Like Us” on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rightsideofthelake.

Please forward this email to everyone on your list.  If you have not signed up for our free email newsletter service, be sure to sign up at our website www.lakecountygov.info.

This year, getting out the pro-growth, conservative message is more important than ever before.  Please forward The Right Side of the Lake to everyone on your contact list and encourage your friends and family to sign up for this free newsletter by going to www.lakecountygov.info or www.therightsideofthelake.com.  If you would like to make a comment about today’s newsletter please (click here).

2 Responses to “Eustis Heights Elementary School Renovation Project Approved — Many Questions Remain”

  1. Why would it be so hard for folks to believe that Bradeberg, Fischer or Stivender or even these others on the county commission would be in the games to push a specific issue or construction pet project?

    After all it was Jennifer Hill who “assumed office in 2000 as the county was entering a period of unprecedented growth”, just four short years after Bob McKee assumed the tax collector job and started his massive building projects push (she’s still driving that old McKee Toyota SUV 4 X 4) and no one around here can dispute her push for that Taj Mahal courthouse expansion and judicial renovation project. It was so obvious at that night meeting that she was under pressure to make that building happen.

    so yes, these people wasting our money do take a personal agenda on these projects for some reason.

    Last I heard they still hadn’t moved into that Taj Mahal courthouse they just had to have.

  2. Not plagiarizing just simply quoting segments of this article for points of fact!

    As we can all see by the sheer number of blog posts in response to this very good article outlineing the abuse aka (theft) of millions of our local tax dollars – nobody cares!

    It appears most people have resolved themselves to the facts that our so called “public officials” have everything under control with their own best interests at heart.

    You said “Last week, the Lake County School Board unanimously approved the $12.6 million Eustis Heights Elementary School renovation project. Although on the surface it appears there was a victory for fiscal responsibility, many questions remain. Since we have reported on this project as well as the Umatilla Middle School project, there has been a growing angst in the community over the Lake County School District’s lack of fiscal responsibility; failure to hire local companies; and sheer incompetence when it comes to the bidding process. The main driver behind this project was School Board member Kyleen Fischer who, it appears in her zeal to construct this project, literally gave tax dollars away.” To well connected folks, might we add!
    “COO Davis and his construction team, he was quick to the throw School Board Member Fischer under the bus for cost overruns on the Eustis Heights Elementary School renovation project.”
    Kyleen Fischer lives in Umatilla; why does she have a personal interest in the Eustis Heights Elementary School renovation project? Perhaps she was assigned by her handlers to force this issue.
    The only “sheer incompetence” around here is the fact that “these people” have the ability to manipulate “the people” including the Right Side with their shell games.
    “We are not sure if fiscal responsibility really did occur, because the original contract with AllState Construction, Inc. out of Tallahassee was $12.6 million, while the new contract is for the same amount with a caveat that the price may increase by $2 million. We are not sure why the contract price was not reduced. (If you question them anymore it will go up again!) We have emailed this question to school officials, and have not received a response.”
    The fact remains that the total quoted price of $12.6 million is still the quoted price. “But for” the added aggravation fee of $2 million because some folks dared to question their actions.
    What matters is the gross amount this project is going to cost the people who intimately have to pay the bills – we the taxpayers! They can move the line items around all day long but, money is money and it’s the sum total at the bottom of the bill that counts!
    Maybe ”a growing angst in the community” is at least a minor awakening but the reality of these Lake County schemes is likening to Benghazi, the IRS and Lord forbid the journalist being targeted. The average people haven’t even heard of them.
    All of sudden when the Obama administration starts to double cross his media friends there is “a growing angst in the lame stream media community” But the average people still don’t care! Most don’t have a clue what you are talking about.
    You say “We are going to be closely monitoring this project to see if the cost comes in below $12 million. We hope the District is not going to be socked $2 million more for the custom-Kyleen-Fischer design!” Good idea! But nobody cares!
    Remember as you say “The voters and taxpayers of Lake County won’t get the final cost for the project until sometime later, when “A Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) amendment will be presented to the Board at a future date upon completion of the Drawings and Specifications.” However, they can be rest assured that Fischer will be there with her “yes” vote to spend.
    “The voters and taxpayers of Lake County” still have not got the final cost of the Taj Mahal courthouse expansion and judicial renovations. But that’s old news and nobody cares.
    You ask “How many times can John Davis be wrong until he is terminated by Superintendent Dr. Susan Moxley?” You say “COO John Davis has got to go” His proven failures will soon become hers if she fails to take action.”
    And you said basically the same thing about Chief Financial Officer Carol McLeod the check writer. Some anonymous blogger responded they had terminated her but Bob McKee made them bring her back.
    Susan Moxley can’t fire anyone! If she tried too Bob McKee and his group will throw her under the bus. Has everyone around here got the Obama amnesia? Remember it was Jimmy Conner assigned to eliminate the elected position of superintendant of public instruction and give the job to Dr. Susan Getford Moxley! Now why in the hell would anyone eliminate an elected office?
    So they can control that position, that’s why!
    You say “Here is the question of the day: While teachers are not getting pay raises and they are facing layoffs, does it seem fitting that the Lake County School Board did not challenge the rates being paid to AllState employees?”
    The answer of the day is; “nobody cares about anything.” Look at the sheer number of teachers. Principals and other school board employee’s who have been affected by this massive culture of corruption for years. They have seen their rights and concerns evaporate right before their eyes.
    At the same time they have seen hundreds of millions of dollars spent and wasted on school remodeling and construction projects. Among so many other things, they have even been forced to furnish school supplies out of their own pockets to their students.
    Back on January 1, 2005 when this culture of corruption was organizing for the massive looting they have brought to Lake County and its taxpayers the local lamestream media outlets were for the most part still allowed to tell some truths.
    On that date one of the local mullet wrappers reported:
    The county was already spending millions to renovate its schools and expand, but it wasn’t enough, school officials said. Lake the 34th fastest growing county in the nation, needed $550 million to build new schools over the next five years. The solution. school officials said was to double home impact fees to $7,055, making them the highest in the state.
    So how did that work out for everybody? Good for the architects, contractors and well connected politicians and their friends but, not so good for the “The voters, residents and taxpayers of Lake County” who were left holding the empty bag.
    Everybody in their right mind should be furious about all this. Surely Howard and Mathias can see that the other three are under the auspices and control of something or somebody.
    It’s not rocket science its just organized corruption. If anyone dares question anything they do they have support in place to throw off those questions.
    You say “We have emailed this question to school officials, and have not received a response.”
    And you probably never will. If you do it won’t make any sense. You see “these people” are untouchable. They are accountable to no one. No one around here at least; they know “The voters and taxpayers of Lake County” are powerless to do anything about anything.
    Maybe the disgruntled voters and taxpayers of Lake County should call Eric Holder and have him get the FBI and the Justice Department down here to investigate all of this! Good Luck!
    They are well aware that the only consequences for their actions is “lip service.” The lamestram media will not touch one so called controversial thing they say or do!
    Remember in the Right Side article you disclosed “In the first clip, as you listen to the discussion of Umatilla Middle School, we believe you will find it apparent that Kyleen, Debbie & Rosanne seem to have forgotten they were being recorded. Complete logic flies out the window when it comes to them being good stewards of the people’s money.” They don’t care because they know they are protected for they actions. When is the last time a public official was held accountable, especially in the state of Florida, for anything?
    In another article you said “What is really going on? How does School Board Member, Rosanne Brandeburg, know the owners of AllState Construction well enough to call them to the front of the meeting? Why is she protecting out-of-county contractors instead of the people’s money? Why aren’t employees being fired in the District for making the Superintendent and this Board look like fools? Would Kyleen Fischer and Debbie Stivender throw money away like that if it were their own?”
    They take their orders from a higher power and as long as they keep that higher power happy they have got a job along with all the protections and benefits that goes along with working for the man.
    If they were really “elected public servants” don’t you think they would feel some accountability to the “The voters and taxpayers of Lake County”? Well, actions speak louder than words and just in case you haven’t noticed lately none of these Lake County Officials give a damn what “The voters and taxpayers of Lake County” think about anything!

Leave a Reply (No names necessary. If you put your name it will be published.)

© 2013 Right Side of the Lake: Lake County Florida's local government news source from Citizens for Better Government LLC.

The Right Side of the Lake