Two Queens schools could be expanded and another built for less than the city has estimated by using existing public employees rather than private consultants, the citys largest municipal employees union said.
According to District Council 37s report White Paper III: Building Better Schools for Less, construction at the three borough schools could cost $25 million less using in-house designs rather than consultants designs. The savings, the union says, could then be used to avoid layoffs proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and schools Chancellor Joel Klein.
Our third white paper offers more specific examples of how the city wastes taxpayer dollars to pay the private sector more for work our civil servants can do better and for less money, said Lillian Roberts, executive director of DC 37.
DC 37 released the report at a news conference late last month and said the School Construction Authority and Division of School Facilities could save more than $200 million overall by using existing public employees rather than firing them and hiring private firms.
For example, the report cites how construction estimates for Queens Vocational High School in Long Island City additions were estimated to cost $40.3 million using consultant designs but only $31.9 million using in-house designs. To build the new High School of Architecture and Urban Planning, the report says private consultants bid $67.8 million, while in-house contractors bid $53.6 million a difference of $14.2 million.
The proposed addition to PS 12 in Woodside was estimated to cost $12.9 million using private consultants compared to $10.2 million using in-house contractors.
The two previous studies issued by the organization have also dealt with alleged cost savings by using public rather than private employees.
The 21-page report also breaks down new construction costs at the three Queens schools and one Bronx school, Bronx Coalition High School. The study claims consultant designs cost $430 per square foot vs. the in-house designs cost of $340, a savings of $90 per square foot.
This report shows conclusively that the city should be eliminating costly consultants and assigning more school design to in-house engineering and construction supervision staff, who have repeatedly proven that they can save the city millions of dollars on school construction projects, Claude Fort, president of Local 375 Civil Service Technical Guild, said. The guild is part of District Council 37.
Roberts said in a news release that the unions analysis also covers school repair and renovation, inspection and approval of completed projects and design errors made throughout the planning processes.
The Department of Education did not comment on the release of the study.
Bloomberg and Klein announced a merger between the School Construction Authority and the construction functions of the DOEs Division of School Facilities on Oct. 31. They said the merger would standardize design concepts, encourage competition among construction contractors, centralize management authority and streamline bidding and contracting procedures.
But the union report said the fundamental problem is not the reorganization but rather who will be responsible after the changes to propose and implement construction projects.
Our members have an expertise with the school system and a knowledge base no outsider can match, she said. Our white paper shows dollar-for-dollar just how valuable our members are compared with the inefficiency of consultants and management.
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2003 Community News Group
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