School board to choose architect Monday

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Andalusia Board of Education asked Superintendent Ted Watson to solicit more realistic numbers from the four architects who last month submitted proposals for new middle school buildings at the elementary and high schools.

Watson said he would ask any of the architects – McKee & Associates, Godwin-Jones, Goodwin, Mills & Cawood and Donofro and Associates – who wished to submit more estimates to do so by the next board meeting, set for Mon., July 16.

Board members present – Dr. Bill King, Amy Dugger, David McCalman and David Bryant – each agreed they wanted to find a good architect and then go from there with plans, but each wanted to ensure that the building looks the best they can make it look, all while not jeopardizing the necessities within the facilities.

“We can pick what the outside looks like,” Bryant said. “But I think we need to consult with the teachers and the administrators because they know how it will flow the best for their usage.”

All agreed there is only so much on the outside architectural design that can be done with the elementary school, and the high school offers many more options.

One of the biggest concerns was the price difference between Donofro and Associates and Goodwin, Mills & Cawood. Donofro submitted a project estimate of $3.25 million for his work, and was the only one who submitted cost estimates for the cost of hardening, which would be for a safe room within the schools.

Goodwin, Mills & Cawood estimated a project cost of $5.39 million. The proposed Goodwin, Mills & Cawood plan is more than 2,000 square foot more than the Donofro, but is a two-story, so there must be room set aside for stairwells and elevators.

King said the board wanted to make a safe room at the elementary school a top priority.

Still, Watson said he wouldn’t base a lot on the numbers submitted because they could change with the board’s opinions on the buildings once an architect is selected.

Board members said they were concerned because they didn’t know what one specific design versus another actually entailed.

For example, it isn’t clear if the Donofro plans call for hollow doors or solid oaks doors, which could drive the prices up, if the board wanted the more sturdy option.

“I don’t want (students and parents) to walk in the first day and say ‘really this is what we left the middle school for,’” Dugger said. “I want it to look good no matter if it is one or two story. I just don’t want to put up a brick building that people want to tear down in 50 years.”

King agreed.

“We want to walk away knowing we did the best we could,” he said. “We don’t want to build a junior high school and people say your PE facility is nicer.”

The BOE will meet again Mon., July 16, at 6 p.m. at the central office.