The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education decided Thursday night to move ahead with the use of a project management firm.
The proposal to hire the Cumming Corp. to help with the initial work of building the new elementary school in the Red Oak area was not originally on the agenda but was added Thursday night.
School board member Ann Edge made the motion to “authorize the board chair and the superintendent to execute a contract with Cumming Program Management, using a school system form as may need to be modified by the board attorney and interim superintendent to provide initial project management services through the bidding phase in an amount that shall not exceed $167,000, and for the board to request reimbursement of these funds from the Nash County commissioners.”
That motion was immediately and unanimously approved.
However, Nash County commissioners have made it very clear from the beginning that they will not pay for the use of a project management firm, considering it an unnecessary expense when the services, they say, could be provided by the county and by a knowledgeable architectural firm.
In an interview Friday, Nash County board Chairman Robbie Davis said that still was the feeling of the board. He was surprised that the school board had moved forward with the hiring of the project management firm without further discussion with the county.
“We have no intention of paying for the use of a project management firm,” Davis said. “I am concerned about this decision because I fear it will slow the progress toward building the new school.”
There was no discussion of the motion at Thursday’s meeting. The hiring of a project management firm has been discussed at several previous meetings. Originally, the school board was looking at hiring the firm to oversee the entire project at an expected cost of up to $622,429.
Later, there was discussion of scaling back their involvement and hiring Cumming to help with the initial phases of the project, including site selection and the choosing of engineering and architectural firms at a cost of $175,000. That motion was approved in December.
Because of the opposition from the county, the school board had the Cumming Corp. give a presentation at a previous special called meeting in November. Though Nash County commissioners were invited to that meeting, they were not consulted in the choosing of the date and most had previous obligations that prevented them from attending. But Nash County manager Zee Lamb did attend that meeting.
In December, Nash County commissioners met together with the Nash-Rocky Mount school board to discuss issues pertaining to the school. At that meeting, Commissioner Wayne Doll gave a detailed and impassioned explanation of why commissioners felt that the hiring of the firm was unnecessary, and Davis urged the school board to work together with county commissioners as major decisions were made.
At that time, there was a discussion of forming a committee made up of members of both bodies to discuss school construction issues moving forward.
Davis said Friday that the school board and county commissioners have not met since then to discuss the issue. No mention has been made since by either body in public meetings concerning the formation of a joint committee.