The Fieldcrest Board of Education informally decided on hiring a new architectural firm at a special board meeting Wednesday night in Toluca. A straw poll among the board members revealed that Basalay Cary & Alstadt, an architectural firm from Ottawa, IL, was favored by 4 of the 6 board members. Board members Charles Lohr and Joseph Stasell favored Cordigan & Clark from Aurora while Mykin Bernardi, Heather McKay, Kimberly McKay and Elizabeth Palm favored Basalay Cary & Alstadt.
Basalay Cary & Alstadt gave the first presentation which consisted of basically an oral presentation of the firm's history and qualifications. The firm is located in Ottawa, IL but has representatives in Peru, Il and have been in business for over 36 years with many long time employees. 75% of their work is with educational clients and they currently have 18 K-12 schools as clients, all in Central Illinois. Over 1/2 of their clients have been with the firm for more than 20 years.
Among their recent clients are LaSalle Elementary School in which they finished a $5 million dollar project that involved remodeling 80% of the building. Another client is the Serena School district which involves several communities and multiple school locations and has a similar size and structure to the Fieldcrest School District.
Most of Basaly Cary & Alstadt's work involves Life Safety Studies. They stated that their change order rate is .0166% on building projects, which is quite low. They do not have engineers on staff but have a close working relationship with several engineering firms they can use on a project.
Cordogan & Clark gave the second presentation, a slide show, with several presenters. They have offices in Aurora, Chicago, St. Louis, and LaFayette, IN and stress that 80% of their work is with repeat customers and indicated they can save their clients 10% in reduced time and cost. The firm was involved in the Fieldcrest school project last year in which Rick Krischel was the construction manager for the project.
Among the firm's clients are East Aurora School District which had 6 facilities that were over 80 years old and 18 facilities over 50 years old, Clinton Community School District which had a 70% referendum approval rate on its building project, Plano School District and Coal City. They emphasized that they have in-house engineers and are able to respond quickly on building issues and that they are familiar with the Fieldcrest building issues having worked on the school's building project last year
Both architectural firms said they would give local contractors an opportunity to bid on any school building project.
After the presentations the board members discussed the relative merits of each firm. John Stasell said he favored Cordogan & Clark because they have in-house engineers and experience working with Fieldcrest. However, Elizabeth Palm said not having an in-house engineer was not a concern to her since Basalay Cary & Alstadt had close working relationships with engineering firms. She also felt that Cordogan & Clark had more overhead which would make them more expensive.
Ms. Palm also felt that Basalay Cary & Alstadt had more schools that were similar to Fieldcrest in size and circumstances. Both she and Kimberly McKay said Cordogan &Clark never came through on their promise to help get the school's building referendum passed last year. She said she did not have trust in them based on past experiences with last year's referendum.
Charles Lohr said both firms were qualified but he felt Cordogan & Clark had more experience and could handle the school's building issue better.
Kimberly McKay said Basalay Cary & Alstadt gave more definitive information as compared to Cordogan &Clark's sales pitch. She was not convinced of some of the claims made by Cordogan & Clark and thought that the school would get better response time from someone in Peru compared to Aurora.
Board President Mykin Bernardi said she was impressed by the fact that over 1/2 of Basalay Cary & Alstadt's clients have been with them for over 20 years but emphasized that she could work with either firm.
It came down to trust in the decision to go with Basalay Cary & Alstadt. Cordogan & Clark's association with last year's school referendum proved to be a liability rather than an asset. Also, while Cordogan & Clark gave a slicker presentation, that in itself proved to be a liability and seemed to add to the board's mistrust. The presentation by Basalay Cary & Alstadt was more direct and extemporaneous which seemed to make a more favorable impression on the majority of the board members.
The board will vote on which firm to select at the next board meeting at the end of the month. Unless some board members change their mind, the new architectural firm for the Fieldcrest School District will be Basalay Cary & Alstadt from Ottawa and Peru. The firm, once selected, will then be assigned the task of doing another Life Safety study to determine the cost to bring the school district into compliance.