Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Measure twice, cut once


The Blaine County School District’s new construction and remodeling projects at three schools should be an opportunity for the district to reassure a public still unnerved by a lawsuit involving earlier projects.

The lawsuit has engineering firm McKinstry Essention claiming that the district owes it about $7 million more on work for which the district had already paid $18.6 million, and the district saying it owes nothing more.

The dispute has rocked both district and taxpayer confidence as it has unfolded since last year with allegations flying between the parties.

If the dispute is settled out of court as such lawsuits commonly are, the public may ultimately find it difficult or impossible to learn how and why the wires got crossed between the contractor and the district. That would be highly unsatisfying given the intensity of the dispute because it would leave serious questions unanswered in the name of expediency and the desire to end mounting legal costs.

With the lawsuit still looming, the Blaine County School District board of trustees needs to demonstrate that it has administrative, engineering, construction, accounting and legal controls in place to reduce any chance that what remains of the $59.8 million approved by taxpayers for construction and remodeling of school facilities might end up in a similar kerfluffle.

The district is set to launch new work on Hemingway Elementary School, Wood River Middle School and Hailey Elementary School.

The school board should adopt the builder’s rule of measuring twice and cutting once. That way the new projects should come off without a hitch.




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