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HILLSVILLE — To meet the timeline in the application process for a $26.7 million federal loan for Phase III school renovations, the Carroll County School Board approved an emergency procurement measure June 29.
Carroll supervisors allowed educators to seek the stimulus funds through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for improvements to the high and intermediate schools. School officials needed to hire the architectural firm to meet the federal requirements, according to information provided at the school board's end-of-the-fiscal-year closeout meeting.
"The school board desires to contract with Pinnacle Architecture, P.A., after having a 14-member review committee [comprised of board of supervisors and school board members, school board staff, parents and citizens] interview five prospective architectural firms in 2009," the information states.
That committee unanimously recommended hiring Pinnacle.
In order to continue the federal application process, the school board must designate Pinnacle as the primary firm for the project to add the six grade to Carroll Intermediate School and move the ninth grade to the high school, schools Superintendent Greg Smith explained.
"This is an emergency procurement issue, due to the timeline that we have in order to apply... and to secure the funding," he told the school board members at the 7 a.m. meeting.
School board members took the opportunity to ask questions about the status of these efforts, after a motion by Harold Golding and a second by Franklin Jett.
Asked how the funding application is progressing, Smith explained that he had spoken to Rural Development's Travis Jackson, who has assisted Carroll officials with applying for stimulus funds and Build America Bonds.
"All of the deadlines have been met so far," Smith recounted. "Everything's moving along as it should at this time."
Things look favorable so far, but the total project and funding have not been approved on the federal level yet, the superintendent said. "Travis Jackson believes it's a favorable project and he feels good [about it] right now."
Golding recalled that school officials had talked about hiring a construction management team to oversee the work on the two schools.
Having a firm to manage construction can help assure quality work and save money by making the subcontracting process more competitive, the school board members had heard in an earlier presentation.
But Smith said the construction budget does not include money for a construction management team. It's also his understanding that the federal money may not be spent on that, he said. However, he expected the architects to take on those responsibilities.
"So we're going to depend on Pinnacle," asked School Board Member Phillip Berrier. "We're not going to have anybody represent us, per se."
The schools could possibly have a clerk of the works, School Board Member Reginald Gardner pointed out.
That's something the school board will have to discuss, Smith said. He estimated a clerk of the works would cost less than $50,000.
Both Golding and Berrier thought the schools should have a clerk of the works at a minimum.
In the vote, the school board members unanimously supported hiring Pinnacle Architects for the project.
In another school construction-related motion, the board also authorized lease financing to pay for the construction projects.
This is another part of the process to secure the federal loans.
Knowing that sixth graders from Woodlawn will be transferred to the intermediate school, Berrier asked what would happen with the sixth graders at St. Paul.
The seventh grade alone from St. Paul will be moved to the intermediate school, Smith answered. That's planned because of the seventh graders' academic choices in their classes.
"I think you would run into opposition if we tried to move the sixth grade up here," Berrier said.
Parents with sixth graders at St. Paul could apply to send their children to the intermediate school, if they wanted, Smith acknowledged. But to move the sixth grade from St. Paul en masse, the intermediate school would need more square footage.
"I feel like St. Paul can meet the needs of the sixth graders, curriculum-wise, sports and everything," Berrier said.
In terms of the lease agreement, the Carroll Industrial Development Authority will own the schools in order to qualify for the federal funds, Smith said. The school system will lease the property and the facilities from the IDA throughout the 40-year term of the loan.
This is similar to a situation where the IDA helped to secure a federal loan to buy six school buses, educators said.
Jett made the motion to approve the lease, and all the school board members voted for it.