The Mahomet-Seymour School Board unanimously approved a $37,765 change order for the Middletown Prairie addition during a school board meeting Monday night.
The money will be spent on revising the existing Phase I fire alarm system so that it will be able to communicate with the Phase II fire alarm system.
Former Superintendent Rick Johnston, who oversaw construction of Phase I and is the current Building Construction Consultant, was not at the meeting to answer questions about the change order.
Board members Nezar Kassem and Jenny Park wanted to know how a compatible fire alarm system for Phase I and Phase II was overlooked during Phase I construction or Phase II design.
Phase I and Phase II design and construction have been completed by Ittner Architects and Broeren-Russo Builders.
“When they did the original bid, they didn’t realize that this was something that needed to be changed?” Kassem asked.
Hall answered, “ I want to clarify that technically, and don’t ask me to take a deeper dive because I’m not sure of the answer, but the buildings would actually meet code if we did not do this change order.
“The buildings are looked at as two separate entities, therefore, they would meet code, but this is money well spent. And in the big picture of the overall budget of $13-$14 million, it is not that much.”
Director of Facility Services Shane Truitt chimed in, saying he had trouble understanding why the system needed to be upgraded, but after talking to electricians and fire personnel, he gained a better comprehension.
He shared his findings with the board.
Truitt explained that when Phase I was built, the fire panel that would connect Phase I and Phase II was not part of the thought process.
“Why? How? Don’t know,” he said.
He continued by stating that the current fire panel only has a capacity to deal with so much. So, in order to carry the load for Phase II, the district would have to add an additional fire panel.
“Part of the problem in doing that is that each device has to be replaced in this building because there is a resistor in there that talks to the original panel, and to upgrade the capacity for the whole thing, it has to be a different device with a bigger resistor.”
Park asked, “I’m trying to understand who designed that fire system originally?”
Kassem also wanted to know whose job it was to know this needed to be upgraded.
Melchi said the responsibility falls either on the alarm company or in a miscommunication.
“We call it an addition, they call it another school,” she said.
Board member Lance Raver felt that the district managed the project well if the fire alarm system is the only oversight between Phase I and Phase II.
McComb reminded everyone that “we will probably build onto this again someday.”
Raver also asked if the upgrade would work with any future additions to Middletown Prairie.
Truitt said, “I believe that it will. We’ve kind of ‘hammered’ this subject.”
Prior to the board’s vote, Park said she would like for Johnston to reiterate the frustration with the oversight again.
At the beginning of the discussion, Melchi said that she appreciates Johnston because she knows that “he went toe-to-toe and that he is doing the right thing to make sure that the systems are symbiotic and are all on the same page.”
McComb and Hall echoed her sentiments.
The board set forth a $74,143 contingency budget at the beginning of the $13.8 million budget.