Should local architects get more consideration than out-of town architects when the school board decides on who will design and monitor the building of new schools and school improvement projects that are funded by $223 million of SPLOST money? Or, should it simply be a matter of who can do the best job for the most reasonable price regardless of where their home office is located? Those are questions the Muscogee County School Board could deal with during Monday’s work session.
When the board was presented with the nine architects who were selected to be in the pool of those considered for the SPLOST construction jobs, board member John Wells wanted to know why there were not more local architects. Of the nine, only two were local.
School Board Chair Philip Schley told me that he, too, would like to see more local architectural firms in the pool. He added, “”The 9 that were selected were the ones that made the cut. If we add more local firms, we will have to alter the criteria rules.”
MCSD Construction Division Director Robert Hecht also says he would like to see more local architects being considered. However, proximity was a factor that was considered when the nine were selected. 5 percent of the grade was proximity to a building site. 30 percent of the grade was a firm’s prior record of experience in the planning and design of school building team members qualifications. 20 percent was consideration of a firm’s ability to provide services in a timely manner consistent with the schedule. Another 20 percent is references satisfactory to owner, which in this case in the school board. 5 percent is a firm’s Leed certification experience with school building projects. Leed sets up criteria for building environmentally friendly buildings. And 20 percent of the weighting process is a firm’s value engineering quality assurance approach and cost estimating methodology. Using that weighting system, the committee came up with the nine in the pool.
If the school board decides it wants more local architects in the pool, Hecht says he is prepared to add more.