Nancy Langseth, Jim Rostad, Brenda Foster, Roger Kluck, Laura Mihalick, Minot Public School Board Members
We would like to take this opportunity to respond to Jerome Gruenberg's letter that was published on June 9, 2012. We believe Mr. Gruenberg has presented a very distorted view of the school district recovery process. Please allow us to respond to these unfounded claims and set the record straight.
1. The Minot Public School District No. 1 hired Kraus Anderson Construction Management to lead our flood recovery efforts following the devastating flood, which occurred approximately one year ago. Kraus Anderson was hired not only to assist in the burden of FEMA paperwork, but also to allow us any chance to start school on time64 modular classrooms delivered, set up and operational in time for school to start. The coordination that was required to get the site work done for the 64 modular classrooms, the renovations needed at some of the other temporary facilities and the construction of a temporary gymnasium/cafeteria at the Longfellow site, all would not have been possible without Kraus Anderson on board. Because of the efforts of many, including Kraus Anderson, the school district had what can only be termed a successful school year in spite of the destruction caused by the 2011 flood.
While Kraus Anderson is not a locally owned company they do have an office in Minot, they rent apartment space in Minot for their employees and have done work in the area at Minot State University and at Dakota Square Mall. They are also currently assisting the Williston Public Schools in their efforts to address the impact of the oil industry in their school district. Just so there is no misunderstanding, without Kraus Anderson's presence the Minot Public Schools would not be where we are today with the successful temporary facilities, the beginning of the construction recovery of several of our damaged buildings and the continual dealings with FEMA on over $74,000,000 in FEMA project worksheets for all of the District's flood related costs.
2. Mr. Gruenberg is an employee of a local construction company that has been awarded a number of Minot School District building projects in the past through the required bidding process and has done excellent work and we hope they and all local contractors will continue to bid on future projects. However, it should be noted that the construction company for which Mr. Gruenberg works submitted an unsuccessful bid on the Longfellow Elementary School Renovation and Addition Bid Package No. 1. The construction company employing Mr. Gruenberg bid on eight of the scopes of work included in the Longfellow bid package. That construction company bid $4,029,842 on those eight scopes of work. The total of all of the successful low bidders on the same eight work scopes was $3,061,293; a difference of $968,549.
So, even if you add in the projected fees of the construction management company which are estimated at approximately $200,000 on the Longfellow bid package No. 1 rather than the erroneous number ($390,000) Mr. Gruenberg stated in his letter, the district is saving in excess of $750,000 on this bid package alone by using Kraus Anderson Construction Management versus if the project had been awarded to the company for which Mr. Gruenberg works.
3. There are no "additional fees" being paid to Kraus Anderson. The fees being paid to Kraus-Anderson are in lieu of similar fees that would be paid to a general contractor.
4. The North Dakota Century Code, which governs public school districts and the Stafford Act, which governs FEMA related projects both require public bidding of construction projects and all contractors, (local as well as non-local) have an equal chance to bid on these public projects. Also, please be aware that 90 percent of the costs of the FEMA related projects are being funded by FEMA and 7 percent of the costs are being funded by the State of N.D. Department of Emergency Services. The remaining 3 percent is paid by the school district.
5. The school district has contracted with local Minot architects and engineers as we design new buildings and plan for repairs of damaged buildings. These Minot-based architects and engineers participated in the same bidding process that is used for the construction projects that Mr. Gruenberg refers to in his letter.
6. Local construction contractors are getting a large portion of several projects being bid out by the school district:
-74 percent of the successful bidders on the Adult Learning Center repair project were local North Dakota Companies.
-82 percent of the successful bidders on the Headstart repair project were local North Dakota companies.
-Almost all of the emergency work on the Longfellow temporary gymnasium/cafeteria was completed by local Minot electrical, mechanical and general contractors.
Again, we hope that local contractors will continue to bid and be the successful bidders in the required public bidding process.
Mr. Gruenberg is a Ward County commissioner and the mayor of a local community. By his assertions, are we expected to believe that 100 percent of Ward County and his local community's publicly bid projects are awarded to local contractors? It is a fact that two recent county paving projects have been awarded to non-local contractors as, we are sure, was required by the public bidding laws.
Finally, Mr. Gruenberg references that "The Minot School Board is holding an election on June 12. Maybe there should be more than one seat being contested." Mr. Gruenberg conveniently omitted an important fact. One of Mr. Gruenberg's co-workers is a candidate in the upcoming Minot School Board election. In addition, there are two contested seats on the board not one. The timing and intent of Mr. Gruenberg's letter is suspect and open to interpretation.
As elected officials, we take our duties very seriously; that we offer an excellent education for all students; that we ensure a full recovery from the Flood of 2011; that we return students to regular classrooms as quickly as possible; and furthermore, that we serve as prudent stewards of the district and its resources. We stand behind our decision to work with Kraus-Anderson during the recovery process, and we believe this agreement has shown a cost savings for the patrons of the Minot School District.
It appears to us that Mr. Gruenberg's letter may have had ulterior motives, rather than looking out for the best interests of the Minot Public School District No. 1, a district of which he is not a resident. We are certain Mr. Gruenberg would not appreciate if a resident of another county or community came to him as a Ward County Commissioner or as mayor of his local community and told him how to best operate and recover from last year's flood.