Project saving money

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By Don Pace

As work on the Don Cecilio Martinez Elementary renovation project winds down, the architect says he once again had good news.

“I know it’s difficult to believe when someone comes before you saying they have good news in the way of a change order,” Antonio Ortega told the West Las Vegas school board recently.

He pointed to a summary from the state Public School Finance Authority that indicated that nearly $500,000 was left over on the additional available bonds for the Don Cecilio project.

At an earlier board meeting, Ortega said PSFA had declined to participate in landscaping the school grounds as part of the renovation project.

“But after negotiations (with PSFA), we have reached an agreement for them to provide drainage structures and things of that nature that were part of the overall landscaping plan that were essential so the site doesn’t become a quagmire,” Ortega said.

Ortega said even with all the extra work, there would be sufficient money to purchase playground equipment requested by Associate Superintendent Mary Jo Archibeque.

Ortega also read off a list of additional work that he was recommending, which could be done because of savings on the overall project. The list included renovation of administrative offices, new sidewalks, a concrete picnic area, a weed barrier around the school, and repairs of past shoddy work.

“We will be coming back for at least one more change order for window coverings. PSFA has already tentatively agreed to participate on that expense,” Ortega said.

Ortega said the building has been restored to its original grandeur, including incredibly large windows in the classrooms.  

“We were waiting until the last possible minute to purchase the window coverings, in case we found some unexpected work in this old building. But we’re now at the point where anything we ask for (in the way of change orders) is an enhancement of the project and within the available funds the district allocated for the renovation,” Ortega said.  

Ortega said he would come to the next meeting with more specific information on the window coverings.

“We are not proposing that there be a change order to the Frankens. We’re proposing that the district go through a qualified contractor that is qualified to do window coverings. That will allow us to avoid the overhead and profit that the Frankens would be obliged and entitled to,” Ortega said.

Regarding the additional work, member Kenny Lujan asked, “So work will continue into October now? What are these kids going to do for physical education?”

“We have a choice, Mr. Lujan. This work is all being done outside, and is not going to affect the occupancy of your school. However, we either do it or we don’t. We either leave it as a mud quagmire or fix the problem, and make sure students get in there by Aug. 12,” Ortega said.

Ortega said while the work would continue after school starts, construction workers would make sure children are able to enter and exit the school building safely.

“It is going to take some time, but this isn’t anything within the original scope of the contract. These are all enhancements we are able to accomplish because the administration has been so prudent in spending the money that was allocated to the project. I keep repeating this, it’s awesome to come here to offer a change order and not have my hat in hand asking for more money, and at the same time making this project so much better,” Ortega said.