Restroom remodel more costly than thought

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 7, 2012

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – The completion of construction projects at West St. John Elementary School hit a bit of a snag recently when the estimated cost of renovating the gymnasium restrooms came in at nearly double the estimated cost.

The project was budgeted at $100,000, but the contractor that has handled the rest of the construction at the school, Lincoln Builders of Baton Rouge, submitted a proposal pegging the work at nearly $180,000.

Because of this disparity, both consulting firm CSRS and St. John the Baptist Parish district administration recommended the board reject the proposed change order. The work would have rejuvenated the decades-old restrooms, which prior to construction were being used for storage, according to CSRS Project Manager Floyd Luster.

“We could build a new restroom outside the building from the ground up (for that amount of money),” said CSRS Project Manager Todd Mann. “It would be a waste of money.”

Although everyone was in agreement that some sort of renovation is necessary, the board engaged in an extended debate regarding the scope of the project and the method to complete it.

“Those facilities date back to when Mr. Bacas was a star basketball player at Edgard High,” joked board member Gerald Keller.

Russell Jack, who is the School Board representative for the west bank, wanted to see the project completed in full — which entailed restoring shower and locker facilities as well as the toilets, urinals and sinks — but said, “I just want to see it done.”

After debating the merits of the different options available, the School Board ultimately accepted a motion from Albert Burl III to put a scaled-down version of the project out for bid, an action that will delay completion of the project but will likely save the district some money.

“I’m confident we’ll get at least three bids,” said Mann.

The new version of the project will likely leave out the shower and locker aspects.

In other action Thursday, district administration, at the request of Burl, took a look at its pest control contract in the wake of problems at both Garyville/Mount Airy Magnet School and East St. John High School.

According to Purchasing Director Peter Montz, the district has placed Tally Pest Control on a 30-day probation and has cleared up some communication problems it had with Tally.

“This will ensure we are doing our part to secure the perimeters of our facilities,” said Montz.

Assistant District Attorney Orenthal Jasmin said Tally Pest Control was not technically at the level of default of its contract.

Also Thursday, parent and teacher members of the board’s standing committees were announced. On the Personnel Services Committee, George Rush will be the parent representative and Melissa Faucheux will be the teacher representative. On the Financial/Auxiliary Services Committee, Katrina Caston will be the parent representative, Patty Forsythe will be the teacher representative and Herman Clayton will be the support staff representative. On the Communication/Pupil Services Committee, Gail Brazile will be the teacher representative, Amelia Williams will be the parent representative and Candace Robertson will be the alternate.

Lastly, the board agreed to seek proposal from firms to handle the impending redistricting. Because the new board had just been elected prior to the results of the 2010 U.S. Census, it has had more time to deal with the matter than local parish councils did.