Board of Education approves architects for referendum-funded projects

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The Beaufort County Board of Education, on Tuesday, Jan. 7, approved contract negotiations with architects for referendum projects scheduled for next summer.

The Board’s vote authorized contract negotiations with four architectural firms: McMillan, Pazdan Smith of Greenville, LS3P Associates Ltd. of Charleston, Jumper Carter Sease of West Columbia and Rosenblum Coe Architects, Inc. of Charleston.

Once contract negotiations are complete, the four architectural firms will be assigned specific referendum-funded projects related to safety/security, technology upgrades, playground improvements at one school and athletic facilities improvements at another.

Robert Oetting, the school district’s Chief Operations Officer, said summer referendum projects would be spread over the next four to five years, starting with 11 schools in summer 2020: Beaufort Elementary, Bluffton Elementary, Hilton Head Island Elementary, Whale Branch Elementary, H.E. McCracken Middle, Lady’s Island Middle, Whale Branch Middle, Right Choices and Beaufort High.

Athletic facilities at Whale Branch Early College High School also will get an upgrade over the summer, while playground facilities will be improved at St. Helena Early Childhood Center.

Oetting said most summer referendum projects will occur at schools already scheduled to be closed for other large projects such as schoolwide painting or heating and air-conditioning upgrades. The summer projects and accompanying school closures will be spread across the district, and across grade levels, to allow summer school programs to be operated in all areas of the county.

Architectural firms competed for the Summer 2020 referendum work by submitting proposals. Five finalists were interviewed on Nov. 26, and their proposals were independently evaluated and scored by a panel of five reviewers: two school principals, one community member with expertise in facilities design and construction, one district staff member from the Division of Instructional Services and one district staff member from the Office of Facilities, Planning and Construction.

Following the interviews, the five-member review panel independently scored the finalists as part of a process that led to the final selections.

The competing firms were scored based on numerous criteria that included such areas as past performance, personnel qualifications, demonstrated ability to complete projects on time and on budget, and related experience on similar projects.

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