LISBON - Beaver Local Schools Superintendent Kent Polen chose not to comment at Monday evening's board meeting regarding a dispute between the district and Team 8e, the Canfield architectural firm that created the initial design renderings of the proposed Beaver Local K-12 school building, leading up to the passage of the school bond issue last March.
Thomas A. Madej, president of Team 8e, alleged in a series of emails received by The Review that the firm has yet to receive any payment for work carried out on the district's behalf during the past five years.
"The graphics (site plan) and cost information that was published in all campaign materials and put on the district's web site was produced and remains the property of our firm, and we were never compensated for our work," Madej writes.
Beaver Local approached Team 8e in 2008 to assist the district with design information and data for the passage of a bond levy for a new school building, Madej says. He asserts that the firm requested a written agreement when the working relationship began under previous Superintendent Sandra DiBacco, but were told no for fears that a formal contract between the district and an architect before the bond issue's passage might put off potential voters.
"Although we requested the agreement, the district stated that we would either continue to be involved or be compensated for services once the levy did pass and the project became a reality," Madej writes. "We accepted that arrangement and assumed the risk of not receiving compensation only if the levy did NOT pass."
According to Madej, Team 8e made a second attempt at a formal agreement when the district, now under the leadership of Polen, requested further plans and data in advance of announcing the bond issue campaign in early 2012. Again they were denied, Madej says, on the grounds of not wanting to "upset the voters prior to the election in March."
A motion to formally name Team 8e as the district's architect appeared on the agenda of the school board's Feb. 13, 2012, meeting, but was tabled during the meeting and never resurfaced. The Board of Education formally selected the firms Olsavsky Jaminet and Fanning Howey to provide architectural and engineering services for the new school at its June 29, 2012, meeting.
"I'm not going to make any comments on that," Polen replied when asked about the allegation. He did confirm that attorneys have been contacted about the issue, and that the disagreement has not progressed to a courtroom setting so far.
Madej says Team 8e also is pursuing an unethical business practice complaint with the State of Ohio against Beaver Local and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, claiming that Fanning Howey has been removed from the board-approved design team for the new school, thereby invalidating the selection process.
"Our claim contends that since the BLSD and OFCC removed Fanning Howey from the selected design team and disqualified almost half of the selection scoring, they should have invalidated the selection process and revisited the remaining qualified firms," Madej writes.
When asked about the absence of Fanning Howey representatives at a public meeting to review the design process on Feb. 20, Polen said that the firm's involvement was primarily in the early stages of the project, such as completing the state-mandated program of requirements.
"They were going to get the ball rolling, start the design process, and once they got so far, Olsavsky Jaminet would take over," he said.
Polen explained it was Olsavsky Jaminet that was contracted by the district; Olsavsky Jaminet then subcontracted with Fanning Howey for selected work. According to Polen, this arrangement follows an established pattern of collaboration between the pair. "Those two firms partner up a lot," he said.
The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission shared 50/50 voting power with BLSD during the selection of the architectural firm that was ultimately chosen for the new K-12 building. The commission is providing $32.4 million of the $52.2 million project costs.