A supporter of Proposition W, the $28 million school bond measure passed by voters in 2008, is upset that little of the money has been used to benefit local business. He says the Lemon Grove School District assured residents that they would have opportunities for employment.
Robert Robinson, president of the Broadway Heights Community Council and an organizer for Proposition W, made the complaint to the school board at its May 22 meeting.
He told the five-member panel that he was disturbed a community benefits agreement for hiring locally had not been put in place.
“The bottom line is … only $126,688 has been awarded to the local community,” he said. “Somebody has been sleeping at the switch here.”
So far, three bond sales have raised $18 million to repair schools, modernize a middle school and build a new joint-use community library. The first bond sale raised $5 million, most of which was used to pay off debt for past construction and energy-saving projects.
The district had been using money from its general fund to pay that debt.
Later bond sales raised $8 million and $5 million, respectively, to fund construction on the long-awaited library and revamp Lemon Grove Middle School, which will open in the fall as the Lemon Grove Academy for the Sciences and Humanities.
The district awarded the $10.4 million project—the first new construction out of the 2008 measure—to San Diego-based Legacy Building Services Inc.
Robinson said the district is dealing with a large contractor that has a built-in audience when contracts are bid out through the San Diego chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America’s AGC San Diego Online Plan Room.
He called Legacy’s bid announcements in AGC and The Daily Transcript a “symbolic gesture.”
“Legacy has done the Lemon Grove School District an injustice,” he said. “I have dealt with Legacy and the AGC for more than 30 years, and this is just how they operate.”
Robinson said AGC’s more than 30,000 member firms “equal nothing less than construction clout.”
Joanne Branch, the district’s project manager, said all public advertising for the design/bid process had been done correctly. She said Legacy advertised for three weeks with seven separate advertisements in public newspapers of general circulation, with three multitrade bid projects advertised over a period of six months.
With 151 bids received, three subcontractors were from Lemon Grove.
“We were very pleased with the coverage that we got,” she said.
Branch said Legacy chose to do specific outreach in Lemon Grove, contacting local businesses twice during the bidding process.
“Each of the 48 Lemon Grove subcontractors listed was personally called by Legacy,” she said. “They knew their trade was available on the street and were provided an opportunity to bid.”
Potter said more than two-thirds of the companies declined due to the large scale of the projects, eight asked for bid documents and only three submitted bids.
of Lemon Grove was awarded a subcontract for $126,688.
Dr. Gina Potter, assistant superintendent of business services, said Robinson posed good questions, and that she and Superintendent Ernie Anastos have met with him.
Potter said the district is addressing Robinson’s concerns about bringing in money locally by expanding outreach to local contractors and day workers.
A local work opportunity link was recently added to the district’s Proposition W website. She said the district is responding to Robinson’s request for day workers gaining employment by placing fliers in local churches and businesses.
“Along with Legacy, we are making an effort to do this as quickly as possible,” she said. “One major hurdle in getting day laborers with subcontractors is that most hired already have a set crew to do the work. I don’t know what the probability is in getting day laborers hired.”
Potter said the best thing for any person or business interested in working with the district on projects is to contact the district directly using the number provided on the website and flier.
“There are other projects that the district might have going on that some might qualify for,” she said. “And the district has the information on all opportunities, not only with this particular design/build project.”
But with two-thirds of the Proposition W bonds cashed out, that may not be for years to come.
Potter said that with the assessed valuation, the district is unable to execute the full amount of the bond measure—and that it could take 10 to 20 years to move forward working with the remainder of the funds.