Trustees vote to terminate contractor

Original rendering of the new Alpine High School. 

Alpine ISD Board of Trustees held its regular meeting via Zoom videoconference on June 30, and announced termination of Lubbock contractor Lee Lewis Construction for construction of the new high school. Board Vice President Mary McCallister, Board Secretary Justin Cross, and Joe Portillo were absent from meeting.

Trustees also delegated authority to Alpine ISD Superintendent Becky McCutchen and CFO Tucker Durham to prepare and issue procurement documents, receive and open bids, and propose a ranking for the board’s consideration.

In a 4-0 vote, trustees also approved the final change order for close out of the bus barn project. McCutchen announced that based on input from legal counsel, along with architects from Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper, there was $31,000 in liquidated damages to which Alpine ISD was entitled from Lee Lewis Construction for the bus barn delay. McCutchen said the amount was based on the number of days the building could not be used because the contractor didn’t have everything done correctly.

“They’re not going to give us that money back, but on the final bills, that will come off as a credit to us,” said McCutchen.

Architect Allan Wolf said that based on obligations under the contract with Lee Lewis Construction, the termination would not alter the arrangements on the elementary drive project and the bus barn project, but it would remove the high school construction project from Lee Lewis Construction. Wolf said PSC was ready to go out into the market and search for pricing in July, and get back to the board in August.

Trustees also approved the construction delivery method that would allow the district to consider price and qualifications of the contractor to determine the best value. They approved establishing competitive seal proposal criteria such as price, completion date, resumes and references of the job site superintendent, experience with similar projects, reputation of the contractor, and other relevant information.

Trustees also approved establishing an evaluation committee and approving wage rates. Wolf said the proposed committee could include him and architect Les Burke, Alpine ISD administration and facility members, Alpine ISD trustees, and community members.

McCutchen said this step was necessary to move forward in the process, adding, “Tucker and I have a lot more work to do, and thankfully Allan and Les will be there to help us along the way. It will be a little different for us, but I feel this is the process we need to take.”

She later told the Avalanche that although plans for a revised high school configuration were not yet finalized, and the rebidding process had not started, she expected ground breaking for the high school would only be delayed two or three months at most, probably until September.

McCutchen stressed that costs for the new high school would not exceed the bond amount, saying, “We’re not going over that. That was part of our big issue with Lee Lewis.”

Finally, a public hearing was held in which trustees reviewed proposed tax rates for the 2020-2021 school year. Durham said the proposed tax rate for maintenance and operations was $1.0547 per $100 valuation, and the proposed rate for bond indebtedness was $0.24 per $100.

In November 2018 voters approved a $22.588 bond for new high school construction, and the bond tax was rolled into the school portion of property tax bills for the 2019 tax year.

The next regularly scheduled Alpine ISD Board of Trustees meeting is set for Wednesday, July 15 at 5:30 pm via Zoom videoconference.

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