October 24, 2014

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Lorain High construction resolution due this week

LORAIN — Resolution of a Lorain High School construction lawsuit is expected this week, which Lorain Schools officials hope will allow the $74 million school to open on time.

The school, at 2600 Ashland Ave., is supposed to open in August 2016 for the start of the 2016-17 school year. The lawsuit delayed bid advertising, which was supposed to occur in January.

“We’re behind, but not enough that it is really going to hurt us,” Jeff Hawks, executive director of operations, said Sunday.

Hawks said the planned $3 million, 800-seat auditorium may not be ready when the school opens, but essentials like classrooms and the cafeteria will be completed. The auditorium is not part of the 81 percent of costs paid for by state taxpayers because the state doesn’t pay for school auditoriums.

The auditorium will be paid for with interest from bonds on the project, approved in 2001. The high school is the last of the 14 buildings to be built in the project.

If the settlement occurs, the Board of Education will hold a special meeting this week to vote on it, according to Superintendent Tom Tucker. Board members are expected to approve the settlement and may also approve bid advertising.

In July, the Sandusky-based North Central Ohio Building and Construction Council sued the school district, Ohio School Facilities Commission and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission over the district rescinding a Project Labor Agreement. The agreement, approved by the Board of Education in December 2010 and the Facilities Commission in January 2011, called for “good faith efforts” to ensure 50 percent of all project workers are from Lorain or Lorain County. The agreement also called for workers to be unionized and receive prevailing wages.

In February 2011, the Facilities Commission abolished the agreements for state-funded projects and said a waiver wouldn’t be granted for Lorain because bids hadn’t gone out. However, in January, Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski ruled the agreement was binding and the project should go forward with it.

The state could’ve appealed the ruling but is finalizing a settlement, according to Construction Commission spokesman Rick Savors. Savors wrote in a Friday email that an “amicable agreement” benefits Lorain.

“While it does not serve as a precedent for other cases, this agreement is a welcome resolution in this particular situation,” Savors said.

Joe Thayer, former Lorain County AFL-CIO president, helped negotiate the agreement in 2010. Thayer, an organizer with Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 233, said past agreements on school projects allowed them to be completed on time and under budget.

“It’s proven that it’s worked,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.


  • stillsleepyeyes

    Ok I can see the wage issue, but why would they have to be forced to join a union that they are not going to use after this project………………….pay someone just so they can work?………..sounds greedy, …………………..but all is good as long as gardwennie gets his…………………

  • Denise Caruloff

    I just don’t get how it even got to the point of a lawsuit….so many questions unanswered in my opinion…

    A possible agreement was reached that would
    allow the new Lorain High School project to go out for bid.
    While that is good news, I am still left with much to
    wonder….Why wasn’t the board informed of the Project Labor Agreement (PLA)
    being rescinded when there was a meeting in Tom Tucker’s conference room on
    March 1st 2013…and .giardini writes his letter re: the rescinding of the PLA dated March 5th 2013…At that meeting.. Joe Thayer and Labor reps/ were there…Jeff Hawks was
    there…Giardini was there…Tom Tucker was there..but yet no board members were there nor made aware of that meeting and what it was regarding?
    In Jeff Hawks deposition taken by attorney James Rook …Joe Thayer had asked for the meeting via an email re: the PLA even before Giardini wrote his letter on March 5th stating that the PLA had been rescinded?
    How did Thayer come to ask for that meeting? Why didn’t at least Superintendent Tom Tucker make the board aware of that March 1st meeting…(after all, he does work for the board as does the attorney) Is no one accountable for what seems irresponsible behavior? What was the reason for what looks to be“secrecy” amongst a certain few? Now the question is WHO IS GOING TO PAY THE LEGAL FEES FOR ALL OF THIS MESS?

    It is one thing keeping the tax payers in the dark…but to
    keep the board members as well? How can Lorain City Schools thrive and function if the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing..and in my
    opinion..the left hand has been quite busy.
    In my opinion… Had there not been the debacle about where the school should be built years back..most likely
    that school would be standing as we speak…the PLA would have been in place
    under Strickland…and the nonsense about the board rescinding a PLA..which had never happened and there are no minutes of such a rescinding.

    (All correspondence and depositions are public record
    if anyone is interested).