Mehlville school board OKs turf payments totaling $35,315.99

Payments totaling $35,315.99 for the installation of synthetic turf fields at the Mehlville School District’s two high schools recently were approved by the Board of Education.

Board members voted in July to approve a $1.4 million contract with Sprinturf to have synthetic turf installed at both Mehlville and Oakville senior high schools’ athletic fields and to select SunTrust Leasing to provide the financing, subject to an agreement being negotiated.

In August, the board voted to adopt a resolution approving an agreement with the SunTrust Leasing Corp. to provide tax-exempt funding in the amount of $1.555 million for the purchase and installation of synthetic turf fields at both of the district’s high schools. The agreement with SunTrust provides for a 10-year payment schedule at an interest rate of 4.24 percent.

Board members voted Nov. 15 to approve the two payments totaling $35,315.99 related to the installation of the synthetic turf fields.

The first payment totaling $30,015.99 included a reimbursement of $29,115.09 to the school district for costs incurred since last spring for the projects.

In addition, $570 was paid to the Northstar Management Co., which is serving as the owner/manager for the synthetic turf projects at the two high schools, and $330 was paid to Geotechnology for soil testing.

The second payment totaling $5,300 included $5,000 to Gilmore & Bell for legal services relating to the SunTrust agreement, $110 to Geotechnology and $190 to Northstar.

The Oakville Mehlville Athletics & Activities Club, or OMAAC, has been working to secure advertisements and donations for the new fields. The group announced in May that its members have collected more than $50,000 in pledges for the synthetic turf projects, which are scheduled to be completed in time for the fall 2007 sports season.

The board also voted Nov. 15 to award bids for a community survey and a public-engagement process to Unicom-ARC.

A committee comprised of interim Superintendent Jerry Chambers and three Board of Education members — Vice President Karl Frank Jr., Tom Diehl and Micheal Ocello — had recommended the bids for the community survey and public-engagement process be awarded to Unicom-ARC.

Unicom-ARC’s bid for the community survey is $21,750, and the firm’s bid for the public-engagement process includes a monthly fee of $4,000 to $6,000 for a roughly six-month period, including professional fees. Reimbursables, such as printing, video production, travel and graphic de-sign, would be billed at cost.

The district had issued a request for proposals, or RFP, for the community survey and the public-engagement process with an Oct. 18 deadline.

The district received four bids for the community survey — a fifth bid was received after the deadline and not considered — and three bids for the public-engagement process. In reviewing the proposals, the committee unanimously agreed to conduct interviews with two of the firms — the Vandiver Group and Unicom-ARC — for both the community survey and the public-engagement process.

“… (The) two firms are based in St. Louis and submitted written proposals that were judged as superior to others received,” Chambers wrote in a memorandum to the Board of Education.

The interviews were conducted Oct. 31 by the four committee members, then-North Area Superintendent Eric Knost, who was named deputy superintendent Nov. 15, and interim Chief Financial Officer Brent Bell.

Based on those interviews, Chambers wrote, “It is the unanimous recommendation of the committee to award both RFPs to Unicom-ARC.”

The Vandiver Group’s bid for the community survey ranged from $27,400 to $28,400. The firm’s bid for the public-engagement process included varied costs of $6,500 to $7,000, plus $3,000 to $5,000 per month over a 12-month period. The cost of copies and travel were not included.

Unicom-ARC last served as a consultant to the district in late 1999 and 2000, conducting a public-engagement process that led up to the successful passage of the Proposition P districtwide building-improvement program six years ago.

Voters in November 2000 approved Proposition P, a nearly $68.4 million bond issue funded by a 49-cent tax-rate increase.

However, a final budget revision approved in December 2005 raised the Proposition P budget to $89,137,440 — a roughly 30.3-percent increase — more than $20.7 million over the nearly $68.4 million building-improvement program originally envisioned.