“The big thing, what the OSFC has demanded, is that we cut off the front of our building. That whole front section with the terrace and the roof and the glass, they want all of that done away with,” Staggs said. “No terrace, less glass, no roof over that section, and reduce the size of our cafeteria.”
After Staggs reported that the project has already made $2.88 million worth of value engineering cuts, he said the OSFC says the district is still about $400,000 over budget. He said the only reason the district is still over budget is because the OSFC added 10 percent to the building costs, based on other schools built in southern Ohio. But those schools have all signed a Project Labor Agreement with local unions. New Boston is different, he said, because they do not have a PLA, and so should not be as costly.
“In their letter, they tell us what’s going to happen if we don’t cut it. They tell us our project will be put on hold, and we’re the actual cause of that. Because we’re the cause, they’re going to charge us some fee for rising costs,” Staggs said.
The school board rejected the changes during their meeting Thursday night. Staggs said if the OSFC bills the district for the time they are on hold, the district will bill the OSFC for those five-months that they kept the district on hold.
“I think everything they’ve done to use over this two year period is politically retaliatory,” Staggs said.
Last week, the Ohio Inspector General released the findings of its six-month investigation into the OSFC after receiving complaints from school districts — including New Boston, Clay, Washington-Nile and Wheelersburg. The investigation found that OSFC Executive Director Rich Murray gave unions favored status and joined labor representatives in “arm-twisting sessions” with local school districts.
Staggs said the district is willing to work with OSFC, even though they do not feel the demands are legitimate.
“I am suggesting that we look at other options that will not involve (cutting) any space that could be utilized by students. Maybe look at the district offices. Cut them out. I think we go through the blueprints page-by-page and look at what else,” Staggs said.
He said cuts have already been made to gymnasium and music room.
“We’re to the point now where we’re not going to cut anymore. I will not recommend another cut. If the Board goes that way or not, that’s up to them,” Staggs said.
A spokesperson for the OSFC was not available Friday afternoon.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or e-mail email@example.com.