GPSD Board of Directors Discusses Concerns About Projects Using ESSER Funding with Durrell Design Group

For the Greenville Public School District, the meaningful use of its Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to carry out various building improvement projects is imminent, now more than ever.

During their regular meeting on Tuesday, the GPSD Board of Directors voted 4-0 to hold a special convened meeting regarding the architect agreement and overall ESSER projects with Durrell Design Group owner Greg Durrell. , who is the project manager.

Administrator Drew Newsom was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

The urgency of an impending special meeting was also partly in light of an item in the district’s “Bills and Accounts” report, which showed an apparently high amount for services rendered by Durrell Design Group.

According to the meeting agenda, the board was to consider approval of the architect agreement for the ESSER projects.

Board attorney Dorian Turner raised Durrell’s concerns about the district moving forward with contracting his company and other companies being considered and advised consulting with the incoming superintendent. , Dr. Glenn Dedeaux on this.

“The problem we had was that we had finalized between Dr Monroe, myself and project manager Greg Durrell what we thought the firm contract with the district should be, and then last Thursday night I got a call from an attorney who said he was representing the two architectural firms that the district is considering retaining and so they submitted additional changes to me last night. I am in the process of reviewing that,” said Turner: “So far I think we can come to an agreement.”

In summary, Turner said it was necessary to “withdraw” the contract because what the other architectural firm was proposing did not reflect the agreement in the council documents.

Due to this fact, the board has decided to schedule a special meeting to further discuss the contract and the projects it will encompass.

“I don’t know if you want to wait and waste an entire month before hiring these architects once you have a deal with them,” she added.

Board administrator Jan Vaughn affirmed the board’s concern and the need for a special meeting.

“The board is also very worried because in fact we hadn’t done anything. So we have to have a special meeting because you see on the bills and accounts that Mr. Durrell continues to get paid,” Vaughn said. “We need to set up a special phone meeting as soon as possible and let our new superintendent take care of whatever we need to do with these funds.”

Every member of the council was of the same sentiment.

Nearly a year and a half ago, the board received a report detailing where the district’s largest costs are in terms of campus sites in dire need of repairs, internal and external improvements, modernization , etc.

In January, outgoing superintendent Debra Dace updated the board on the progress of the project, which is said to be in the “pre-planning” phase.

As noted in GPSD’s January bills and accounts report, $34,627 was the cost of services from Jackson-based architectural, consulting and planning firm Durrell Design Group.

Director of Federal Programs Brian Foster said at the time that his meetings with company owner Greg Durrell covered a variety of things and that Durrell had gone through every campus extensively, from hallways toilets and had formulated a budget for the necessary improvements. be done.

The next steps were to be putting together plans based on the completed reports, working with the architects and developing a scope of work for council approval.

Dace referred to the project management contract and reiterated that all work would be phased to completion within 36 months and likely project costs had been developed.

She pointed out at the regular board meeting in January that ESSER’s total construction budget is around $31 million.

The GPSD project management fee is $623,000; the design team fee — 6% of the construction fee — is approximately $1.8 million; and miscellaneous cost estimates will be developed based on approved contract requirements.

Dace also noted at the January meeting that the two architectural firms being considered were JBHM Architecture of Jackson and Beard + Riser of Oxford.

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