School board to review construction contract

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 29, 2002


LULING – A special meeting of the St. Charles Parish School Board is set tonight at 5 p.m. to discuss the construction management contract for bond-issue projects.

The matter came to the board at their March 20 meeting but was put on hold because none of the board members had actually seen the contract.

The contract first came before the board’s capital improvements committee at their Jan. 28 meeting, but only the board’s attorney actually reviewed the contract prior to Supt. Dr. Rodney Lafon bringing it to the board for approval at the board’s March 20 meeting.

“We know we’ve made the changes that protect the school district,” Lafon said, “but I agree you should be comfortable with it.”

The contract, with Carothers Construction Inc. of Baton Rouge, is planned to provide a method to ensure a savings to the school district while maintaining quality for $28 million of specified bond issue projects, including phase two of the new St. Rose Elementary, additions to Norco K-3 Elementary and Luling Elementary and construction of Raymond K. Smith Middle School and the planned satellite high school.

“We’re fixing to approve a contract which none of us has seen,” board member Steve Crovetto complained. “I personally have a few problems with it.”

Crovetto then proposed approving the contract, pending legal approval, but this was withdrawn after board president Wayne Roussel suggested returning it to the superintendent’s office for further review by the board members. Board member “Sonny” Savoie added, “This is a way of leveraging the public’s money,” and quickly added his concerns are not with the firm itself. “It’s a very reputable firm and they’ve done good work in the past.”

The company was one of two who applied for the contract, the other being CSRS Inc. of Baton Rouge. Carothers would earn $680,000 on this contract, working out to $37,770 per month during an 18-month period. This represents 3.4 percent of the estimated total construction cost, according to Larry Sesser, executive director of physical plant services. Board member Mary Bergeron then moved to remand the issue to the superintendent’s office, which was approved with Ronald St. Pierre’s stipulation of a need to expedite the projects.