Construction at Cerritos Elementary School is finished, but because
of delays, the district withheld $1 million from contractors and the
project has not been completed.
Glendale Unified School District officials were happy to announce
at last week's school board meeting that Cerritos Elementary School
was declared finished in May, with the exception of some playground
equipment that must be replaced before children can use it. But the
district owes Gardena-based Amelco Construction, and its bond company
Traveler's Insurance, about $1 million because of a 2 1/2-year delay
to finish the $15-million modernization project.
The project began in 1999 with Measure K funds. Measure K is a
voter-approved, $186-million facilities improvement bond passed in
1997. The project was initially scheduled to be finished in November
2001 and also missed a deadline in January.
"We incurred additional costs for construction management,
inspection, architectural fees," said Steve Hodgson, the district's
chief financial and business officer. "We've probably incurred
additional costs of over $1 million. We held money back from the
contractor to cover those costs ... to address the liquidated
damages. The contractor, now the bonding company, will want those
funds for themselves."
The school is about finished and everything else is operational,
said Ken Gilleland, a district construction project manager who
oversees the Cerritos project.
Part of the project's delay was due to the district's change
orders, he said.
"We can't deny that. We don't deny that," Gilleland said. "But the
contractor is responsible for at least 60% of the time delay."
Amelco officials disagree slightly. Reuben Hughes, Amelco's
executive vice president, believes the district, its representatives,
the architect, and the number of change orders were equally
responsible for the 2 1/2-year delay.
"The problem that we encountered was that we had a lot of bad
subcontractors we were forced to use because of public contracting
codes," Hughes said. "Five major subcontractors went bankrupt, [and
their] bond companies went belly up. That contributed a great deal of
Amelco has not decided whether to sue the district for the $1
million, Hughes said, adding that the bond company and the district
were negotiating how much should be paid.
"It depends on the negotiations we make within the next three
months," he said.