Auditor: BOE made mistakes in project

PARKERSBURG – The Wood County Board of Education should not have delegated control of purchases related to the Parkersburg High School Stadium Field Project to outside parties such as fundraising groups, said the report issued by the state Auditor’s office Wednesday.

The long-anticipated report of the state audit on the more than $2 million project was released to the public Wednesday afternoon. It was prepared by the West Virginia State Auditor and Chief Inspector’s office at the request of the Wood County Board of Education.

The report indicates the Wood County BOE is at fault for the problems with the Stadium Field project, not the Big Red Boosters, due to breaches of West Virginia Department of Education policy 8200.

Wood County Board of Education President Tim Yeater was unavailable for comment Wednesday evening.

John Flint, who becomes Wood County Schools superintendent on July 1, declined to comment on the report, stating he had not had the opportunity to read the report.

The report indicated that control over purchases was relinquished by the BOE to the fundraising group Stadium Committee, a component of Big Red Boosters. This created the risk of unapproved construction costs and should not have been permitted, the report said.

The Wood County BOE also failed to obtain proper competitive bids for the project before it began, the report said.

The Parkersburg High School Stadium Project consisted of three bids, the report said.

Package One included work on existing tread and risers, interior structural steel, perimeter railing, from wall, stair demolition and removal, track protection, asbestos testing, lead testing, and other unspecified work, the report said. It was awarded an original contract amount of $216,900 by the BOE on April 19, 2013, the report said.

Package Two was a precast package which included the design, construction, and installation of precast bleacher sections for the project, the report said. It was awarded an original contract amount of $637,540, although no evidence of BOE approval was provided for the state audit, the report said.

Package Three was for the design, construction and installation of precast bleacher sections, the report said. The original contract amount was for $178,369 for the cost of steel materials only, the report said. It was approved by the BOE on June 11, 2013, on the condition that the contractor’s permission to proceed was contingent upon funding available at the time, the report said.

No unconditional go-ahead was recorded by the BOE regarding Package Three, the report said.

The approved contracted price for all three packages was listed as $1,157,809, the report said.

The final price of the project was $2,052,191.20, the report said. This listed 28 change orders totaling $894,382.20, the report said.

The report pointed out that Package Two was not properly recorded as being approved by the BOE. It also indicated that work for the replacement of girders was inappropriately moved from Package Three to Package Two without opening the packages for bidding again, as was required by the W.Va. Department of Education policy 8200, the report said.

Package Three was also approved for additional costs to be added through change orders to the contract as needed to pay for the work, the report said.

Permitting the cost of a project to expand significantly beyond the original contract amount through change orders is a violation of W.Va. Department of Education policy 8200, the report said.

The report indicated that the BOE also did not maintain proper control over change orders, which dramatically increased the cost of the project, officials said. Of the 28 change orders recorded, 24 of them were requested and approved by BOE employees after the stated project completion date of Sept. 30, 2013, the report said.

Change orders were used in all three of the packages, the report said. A total of 28 change orders were listed on the three projects, and 27 of those were never brought before the Wood County Board of Education’s elected body, the report said.

Instead of being brought before the BOE, those 27 change orders were approved by board of education employees instead, the report said.

Package One had one change order requesting $2,600 be removed, taking the final cost to $214,300, the report said. That change order was approved by a BOE employee.

Package Two contained seven change orders for a total of $354,759.71 in additional funds, the report said. One change order for $275,000 was approved by BOE elected officials on May 28, 2013, the report said. The other six change orders, totaling $79,759.71, were approved by BOE employees between July 3, 2013 and Jan. 21, 2014, the report said.

Package Three contained 20 change orders, 19 of them requesting additional funds and one requesting the reduction of $42,500. Together, the 20 change orders came out to an additional $542,222.20, the report said.

All 20 of these change orders were approved by BOE employees on Jan. 21, 2014, the report said.

The report also states the BOE failed to properly earmark funding for the project before it began.

The Wood County Board of Education did not provide evidence showing that purchase orders were approved before expenses were incurred, the report said. On June 11, 2013, the BOE passed a motion allowing an architectural and engineering firm to proceed with Package Three even though funding was only available on a $50,000 contingency, the report said.