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Contractor blues continues at Bowling Green Elementary School

Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:21 am

MILFORD—Problems and concerns continue with the Bowling Green Elementary School as related to the contractor who handled the expansion and upgrades, a school official said Monday.

David McConnell, the clerk of the works for Caroline County Public Schools (CCPS), addressed the Caroline School Board at a regular meeting on Dec. 9 and reported that Loughridge & Company LLC, the general contractor, was cited for issues required by the construction contract:

-Not attending biweekly progress meetings.

-Submitting pay applications incorrectly and untimely or not submitting them at all.

Concerning change orders and payments due to the CCPS, it was noted that:

-A credit of $192,214.72 is due CCPS for food service equipment purchased outside of Loughridge’s contract.

-Loughridge owes CCPS for reimbursement of utilities used during construction for a credit of $7,031.28.

-Liquidated damages (missing the school project completion deadline) continue to accrue at $500 per day for a total of $57,000.

-The total credits owed CCPS add up to $329,394.

-The change orders requested totaled $33,371.

-The estimated total project change orders amount to $100,000 with the original project contingency for change orders equal to $190,000.

The change orders were approved only as a change on paper and no actual payment made due to the credit situation between CCPS and Loughridge.

The punch list of tasks completed is another concern, McConnell told the board.  While CCPS stated that only 75 to 80 percent of the list was complete, Loughridge representatives say they believe they have completed 98 percent.

The School Board voted unanimously in November to withhold over $1 million from the general contractor until work is finished and problems are corrected. Loughridge submitted a low bid of $10,187,000 for the project in April 2012 and got the job.

School officials have repeatedly cited problems with floors and the heating and cooling system in the renovated and expanded school.

Bowling Green Primary School was renovated and expanded and was renamed Bowling Green Elementary. The project allowed the consolidation of nearby Bowling Green Elementary School, and the expanded school now has 850 students.

In other business, Debra Holt, the director of CCPS Human Resources and Student Services, reported that student uniforms were still being studied for feasibility, but there was not a policy yet.  Another public hearing on uniforms will take place on Dec. 17 at 6:30 in the Caroline Middle School gym.

A budget workshop was held in order to give direction on how to proceed and develop the budget over the winter holidays.  Two issues brought up during the workshop were the need for the CCPS to pay for more of the healthcare costs for part-time support staff and the urgency to correct the pay scale for teachers which was described as lopsided and broken.

Comments included making an increase in each step to be $1,000 in order to keep many of the teachers who come and soon leave the system for better jobs.  Also recommended was a 10 percent increase for all support staff.

During board comments, board member Mack Wright stated the CCPS needed to get away from its dependence on tests to evaluate students, as both students and teachers were burning out from the stress caused by the testing.

Dr. Gregory Killough, CCPS superintendent, made the analogy that it was like evaluating a football team on only one game instead of the entire season.  Killough commented that everything depended on that one moment in time.  Dr. Mary Anderson of Western Caroline, “We cannot expect the children to pass tests when they cannot even read and comprehend the questions.”

The Caroline School Board also heard from two Caroline High School students who read their opinions on the issue of school uniforms. In addition, board members were treated to music from the Caroline Middle School chorus, string ensemble and symphonic band.