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Building, renovations continue at schools

The two-story Forest Park High School building, which dates back to the 1960s, is getting a facelift. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

The two-story Forest Park High School building, which dates back to the 1960s, is getting a facelift. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

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Workers have had a week-long window of mostly dry weather to catch up on construction projects at school sites throughout Clayton County. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

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Forest Park High School is one of the more extensive renovation projects for Clayton County Public Schools at about $21.7 million in construction costs. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

JONESBORO — The sound of heavy equipment during this week’s window of dry weather is indicative of the growing number of construction projects on tap for Clayton County Public Schools.

Several of the district’s SPLOST renovation projects were completed this year and many more are moving ahead.

Officials reported $124.6 million in construction this summer. Some projects were near completion while others were just getting off the ground.

There are an additional dozen renovation projects scheduled and in the design phase, according to district data. They will cost an estimated $69 million. Another $2 million is being budgeted to re-roof Elite Scholar’s Academy in Morrow.

The school board is looking at entering into contracts with six different design firms to draft plans for the renovations. It will cost about $10 million.

Board member Jessie Goree spoke during a recent work session to her worries about the vendors listed on a design contract request issued by the business services department on behalf of construction.

“It bothers me that I continue to see the same names,” said Goree. “I just see the same names every time.”

She said she wants to be sure that minority vendors are getting an equal opportunity to participate in the process and potential design projects for the district.

Chief Operations Officer Dr. Cephus Jackson said the district places indiscriminate bids for the SPLOST-funded projects, which are co-mingled with state funding. He added that state funds cannot be used to court minority vendors.

“We put out a request for qualifications (Dec. 19, 2012), and they have an interview process,” he said. “Some of them (the vendors) do hire minority contractors once the building is done.”

Board member Mary Baker asked whether the district’s qualifying process was rigorous and that firms can assure quality work.

“I really want to know that you can design something other than a box,” said Baker.

The board will be paying a hefty sum to contract with different vendors for design services this year.

Jackson is requesting the board approve $10 million in contracts with the Atlanta-area vendors — BRPH; Cooper Carry, Perkins & Will; Manley Spangler Smith Architects; Stevens & Wilkinson; Gardner Spencer, Smith, Tench & Jarbeau; and Moreland Altobeli.

“The firms will design and prepare drawings or specifications for the school renovation, modification and new construction projects,” he said. “Nine vendors responded to the request for qualification and six were evaluated as qualified to provide professional design services to the district.”

The board meets at 6 p.m. Sept. 9 in the Clayton County Public Schools Administrative Complex, 1058 Fifth Ave. in Jonesboro.