Modular C coming this fall to S.P. Morton

Published 2:07 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

There will be expanded space for elementary school instruction this fall with the opening of a third modular behind S.P. Morton Elementary School.

The Franklin City School Board voted 5-0 on May 16 to enter into a contract with Nadler Modular in the amount of $912,120 for the design, build and installation of Modular C, which will be used to house elementary school classrooms.

Seven votes were not cast on the matter because At-Large Board Member Carrie Johnson and Ward 5 Board Member Brittany S. Powell were not present at the May 16 board meeting.

The board’s vote followed a Mod C update presentation from FCPS Director of Operations Dr. Clint Walters.

“We’ve remained in contact with (the Virginia Department of Education) VDOE as we’re going through the approval process because we are using (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) ESSER funding to support this purchase,” he said. “And at the March 21 board meeting, the board accepted the recommendation to award the contract to WILMOT in the amount of $905,00(5).”

Walters’ presentation noted that this amount included the construction and installation of the modular unit, the placement of concrete footers and the installation of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps.

“As we have gone through this process and sought approval with VDOE, there have been some questions and concerns that have been raised regarding Davis-Bacon wages potentially being necessary during the construction phase of this project,” Walters said. “At the meeting on the 21st, I did share with the board that Davis-Bacon wages would definitely be necessary during the installation phase on-site. That has always been the case when you’re utilizing federal funding for construction.”

In a Monday, June 3, interview, Ward 1 Board Member and Board Chair Robert Holt provided a definition of Davis-Bacon wages, which draw their name from the Davis-Bacon Act.

“The result of that act is that the federal government, who gave us money for this (Mod C) project, had a clause in it that we had to pay union wages,” he said. “We have to pay $5,000 more for the project because we have to raise wages to accommodate that law.”

During his presentation to the board at the May 16 meeting, Walters said officials at the VDOE had reached out to the U.S. Department of Labor for clarification on whether or not Davis-Bacon wages would be necessary during the off-site construction of Mod C, but they had not received additional specific guidance as of his presentation.

“So I have worked with both of the companies that submitted responses to our (Request for Proposal) and updated the quotes with the intent to get a quote that provides Davis-Bacon during the construction at the warehouse and Davis-Bacon for the installation phases on-site,” he said.

He noted that Nadler Modular held its cost constant at $912,120.

WILMOT provided updated quotes that totaled $921,133, but Walters said that total “will cover the cost of Davis-Bacon on-site for installation only.” He noted that it “still does not cover the cost of Davis-Bacon in their warehouse as they’re constructing it off-site. So that is the conversation that I’ve had with their representative.”

Walters explained why he was now in a position of recommending the board change what company it awards a contract to with regard to Mod C.

“There was a change that was made by the Department of Labor that went into effect in October of ’23, and that information had not been very readily available, and it’s only as we were working with VDOE that that information came to me,” he said. “And so based on that, we want to make sure that we’re accounting for all potential costs up front. We don’t like surprises where we have to pay additional wages later on.

“So that’s why I’m coming to the board this evening, making a recommendation that we enter into a contract with Nadler in the amount of $912,(120) for the design, build and installation of Mod C,” he said.

Ward 3 Board Member LaChanda E. Parker said, “How long are they thinking it’ll take them to actually construct this, and when are they looking to start after they get the contract?”

Walters said, “Based on the information that they had shared previously, it takes about a month to build, and that would allow for several weeks to complete that project on-site. They’re going to be working with the city to ensure proper permitting and everything once there is a contract that’s signed. 

“But what really has provided some pause — I would not want to sign a contract without having the permission from VDOE to encumber these funds,” he said. “We understand what the current financial environment is. We would not be able to fund this outside of ESSER.”

Parker said, “We’d definitely complete it before the teachers come back to work?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Walters said, “and we’re going to be working with them very closely to make sure that that happens.”