Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2007

DLR lands district’s bond job

February 15, 2007

It was nearly a coin-flip decision, but the Baldwin Board of Education chose its architect firm for its upcoming bond issue at Monday night's meeting.

After a lengthy discussion about two of the three firms that presented information in January, the board voted unanimously to approve the DLR Group, from Overland Park, as the new firm for the district.

"I thought all three firms would have been a good choice," Board President Alison Bauer said. "DLR's strength is building community support for a bond issue, because they try to build consensus in the public. That is something that we need right now."

The other firm that was in discussion was the Hollis and Miller Group, also out of Overland Park. Board Members Ande Parks and Scott Lauridsen leaned toward that firm over DLR.

"The product I saw from Hollis and Miller was the most adaptive to the district," Parks said. "They would be my top choice. To me, the product outweighs the front end stuff, although I don't want to down play that stuff."

Several other board members favored DLR, while one or two of them didn't have a preference.

"One thing that impressed me was the feedback survey that DLR had," Bauer said. "I appreciated the fact that DLR could give everybody a voice, because some people aren't as vocal as others. That was a strength for that firm."

The one firm that didn't receive much attention Monday was ACI Architects from Leawood. ACI was the firm that helped the district with its last bond issue in 2001.

"They were an excellent firm," Bauer said of ACI. "DLR, as opposed to the other two firms, seemed to have more assistance in the consensus building and that's what we need."

The board did agree that DLR was a stronger firm for building community consensus on a bond issue, while Hollis and Miller might be better at long-range planning.

"I lean toward DLR, because of its strength of working with the community," Board Member Blaine Cone said. "It is imperative that we get the votes we need."

After each board member voiced his or her opinion about how close the two firms were, Parks called for some action.

"I think the board is slightly tilted toward DLR, so someone on that side should make a motion," Parks said.

The motion was made and approved with a 7-0 vote.

Later in Monday's meeting, the board voted unanimously to keep John McArthur as the board's financial advisor. McArthur is a local patron and has worked with the district for several years.

"I don't have any past experience with him, but I would recommend him unless someone can say something negative about him," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "I've heard good things about him."

The school board will continue discussing the bond issue at its next meeting in March.

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