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Lodi Unified School District approves $4.4 million renovation project at Lodi High School

Project moves ahead despite budget cuts

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Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:08 am, Wed Apr 27, 2011.

For the third straight year, Lodi Unified School District is facing drastic budget cuts that will likely result in districtwide layoffs and program elimination.

So why did the school board recently approve moving forward with a huge renovation project at Lodi High School?

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  • Bob Silvano posted at 8:18 pm on Sun, May 1, 2011.

    Bob Silvano Posts: 145

    Mr. Chaney,
    You are obviously very unfamiliar with California’s Pubic Contract Code, and the requirements placed upon a public agency to ensure a fair and equitable playing field for bidding on public projects. The penalties for ignoring these codes are quite substantial, and certainly not worth risking ones career or reputation in order to assist a specific contractor. It is a public agencies primary responsibility to safeguard the funds entrusted to it. This obligation cannot be met if preferential treatment is granted to a specific contractor. It is also not in a public agencies best interest to grant such treatment, as it serves only to reduce the funds available, which then requires either scaling back or cancelling necessary work at other facilities. Public contracts are exactly that, and all bid documents, including plans, schedules, scopes of work, materials, and penalties, are available to the public for review at any time. FYI, you, as simply a citizen, could request a copy of plans and specifications for any public project, and you would be provided these upon payment of the same fee required of any contractor. If you did not wish to pay for your own set of bid documents, you would be free to examine any of the bid documents at the public agency placing the project out to bid at no cost to you. Also FYI, most cost overruns on public works projects are generated for one of two reasons: 1. The design professional (architect or engineer) omitted a necessary component of the project, or 2. The owner (public agency) decided that it wanted to change a detail, or add to the scope of work. The contractor that you and others refer to is indeed local, and while every public agency I know prefers to see their money spent in such a way that it returns in some fashion to aid the local economy, a public agency, in no way, would ever endorse, or permit, collusion or rigging of bids in order to achieve this. I have personally overseen hundreds of public constructions bids and projects, many involving the company you imply. While they may be very tough to deal with, and will pick a set of bid documents apart like a buzzard picks a carcass, looking for any flaw that would provide an advantage on bid day, it is, in reality, simply a survival tactic used by all contractors, for if they didn’t, someone else would. Never, I repeat, never, have they ever attempted to circumvent the legal bidding system in order to gain an advantage over another contractor. They are successful in being awarded a good number of the public works contracts they bid on simply because they bid on such a large number of projects. If you followed the public contract bid results provided by local builder’s exchanges, you would find that they are unsuccessful more often than not, like most contractors. Their success comes from the sheer number of projects they bid on, which, by the way, is a very costly process for a contractor, with no guarantee of return. In closing, you would do well to more carefully research your facts before making such blatantly condemning statements. Their success also allows them to retain some very capable legal consultants.

  • Patrick W Maple posted at 3:45 pm on Fri, Apr 29, 2011.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    The simplest way to figure expenditure per student is to take the yearly budget and divide it by the ADA (average daily attendance)...depending on whether it is a high school district, elementary district or a unified one. I would think that this money has already been counted in that formula. What can affect the spending are grants, and one time funding from other sources. For instances, if you have a handicapped person that your district cannot educate for some reason, the district can be forced to send them somewhere else (Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico) for special instruction or care. There are many other funds for projects like teacher training, tobacco education, bus replacement grants, and safe schools projects, that will increase the per student costs as well.

    The simplest way to figure expenditure per student is to take the yearly budget and divide it by the ADA (average daily attendance)...depending on whether it is a high school district, elementary district or a unified one...schools are generally paid for the prior years numbers and those can change drastically from year to year.

    That is the simplistic view but unless you want me to fill this paper with state funding practices and procedures, that will have to do. The budget is not an easy beast to tame...especially if you have a lame board.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:49 am on Fri, Apr 29, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Pat... I have a question... when the statistic that comes out that identifies what is spent per student... what is and is not included in that number... for example, I believe in California its $9000+ per student. Does that figure include expenses like this 4+ million in this letter... if not , what other expenses are not included that could be related to education... ???

  • Patrick W Maple posted at 5:42 am on Fri, Apr 29, 2011.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    DB: Go on line and look up distance learning...students stay at home and learn from a teacher over the internet...there are several schools existing that do not have classrooms and teach as many as 25 students at one time...it puts the onus on the child. Today it seems that schools are not much more than high class babysitting services. There are some very good benefits however, social skills, critical thinking in a school setting, non-rote information and lifetime friends. The biggest problem with most CA schools is the continued influx of immigrants on the system. I believe that all ELL and ESL education should be out-sourced like they do in most other countries. The question that continually comes to mind is where are all of the immigrants who were educated here, and why are they not going back into their "comunities" and volunteering to help??? Why is this a government problem?

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 7:59 pm on Thu, Apr 28, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    thanks Pat... I always gain knowledge and perspective from you. I have no doubt that everything you have expressed in these posts are accurate and heart felt... Please understand from where I am coming from though... I just spent nearly four months in Thailand and observed various schools and facilities that thousands of students and educators utilize every day... Lodi high would be considered an elite school facility and any student there would marvel at the quality and comfort students enjoy here...for example, they go to school in full uniforms, live in hot tropical climate... and have no air conditioning... when I see teachers fired... cut backs everywhere... its hard to believe that we cannot think outside the box... the facility is not that important... just my view

  • Patrick W Maple posted at 5:54 pm on Thu, Apr 28, 2011.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    DB: We are on the same page....the system is a 70 yr old car that has 3.3M miles on it...it is due for an overhaul...or a complete replacement. 14 years of watching and hiring unqualified individuals to run a district said it all for me. Further, we need a new system for oversight...Boards do not work...because the members do not do the work.

    Occasionally a Board will come about and do a good job, but not often enough...even in the bigger districts it is all about "look at me, I'm in charge" and nothing else. I was lucky enough to serve with people who did care: Dennis Richardson, Sue Roberts and Ben Cox. There was a lot accomplished because we hired a competent Superintendent...Dr. Christine Hoffman, who did her job and got rid of many of the elitist administrators and so-called teachers.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 9:20 am on Thu, Apr 28, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    J...Jackson stated...Mr. Maple, thanks for TRYING to explain in plain English why these funds are available and for use only on "brick & mortar" projects. Why Darrell can not understand that is just another reason to explain his outlandish statements...

    Jackson... I'm sorry that you are suffering from a neurological disease... you have my sympathy...
    First you accuse me of wanting to kill people in an earlier post and now you state I do not understand something that is only a result of your lack of comprehension......Let me help “you” understand...
    One, I never think of killing or stoning anyone... where you get that is inexplicable...
    second... I completely understand “why” these funds are available and for use only on "brick & mortar" projects... and, under normal times, I would completely agree with Pat and you...however, I have an “opinion” , that in this particular situation, where teachers are being laid off, where possible economic bankruptcy is around the corner for California, where pensions and benefits are drastically being reduced, where tax revenues are projected to dramatically decrease even more than current... all because there is “no money”...that maybe it would be prudent that the “system” allow flexibility and discretion to do things differently “now”... because the system is not working for what is appropriate in this economic environment, I stated the system is broken... to you... I am making outlandish statements.... You are ridiculous at best...

  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:04 pm on Wed, Apr 27, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Mr. Scott, you should concentrate your efforts on the corrupted little town you're in?

  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:03 pm on Wed, Apr 27, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    The point I'm making is that with a contractor who doesn't depend on high cost overruns and extras to line their pockets on jobsites, that the $4.4 million will accomplish much more needed work when the costs are scrutinized and the pot of gold at the end of the project doesn't reflect high overruns and extras for the same old contractor time after time when ALL costs should be scrutinized and justified that are over and above any contract bid.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 8:56 pm on Wed, Apr 27, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Josh, did you bother to go to eyeondiede.com and see the shabby craftsmanship, lawsuits and the fact that pickets pointed out wage and labor law violations, some on those jobsites that you speak of? And I didn't mention any particular contractor, you did, so you must be aware of this questionable contractor.

  • Patrick W Maple posted at 5:55 pm on Wed, Apr 27, 2011.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    DB: If at least some of the money were not put aside for deferred maintenance and such, the Districts (any of them) would be trying to float bonds every other year to pay for repairs and renovations. Roof wear out...we all need to put money aside for such matters. I can guarantee that if restrictions were not put on them Boards would be loaded with partisan members who want to get their pet projects funded...just look at Galt's Ag Dept...they take 85% of the discretionary funding for their extra-curricular program...and have for nearly 20 years.

  • Josh Morgan posted at 4:45 pm on Wed, Apr 27, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 542

    Jackson.....why in the world would you confuse us with the facts? Don't you know these blogs are all about rumor, innuendo, false accusations and misinformation? Man, you have nerve!

  • Bob Bechill posted at 3:33 pm on Wed, Apr 27, 2011.

    Bob Bechill Posts: 41

    I knew it and thankfully Jackson confirmed it. It's the Garden Club. Off with their heads!

  • Jackson Scott posted at 2:52 pm on Wed, Apr 27, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 392

    Anyone who has read these blogs long enough knows that Doug is the biggest conspiracy theorist to ever live. It doesn't matter what the subject he will spin it back to the City of Lodi, Diede Construction, LUSD, bid altering, backroom deals, cocktails at W&R, the 3 Ayemeegos, etc etc etc. The story could be on the little old lady who has been a member of the Lodi Garden Club for 75 years but Doug will somehow steer it back to the evils of Lodi's wealthy elite. Again, Doug, if you have any proof of any of these serious allegations I suggest you take it directly to the Foreman of the Grand Jury.

    Mr. Maple, thanks for TRYING to explain in plain English why these funds are available and for use only on "brick & mortar" projects. Why Darrell can not understand that is just another reason to explain his outlandish statements. It's like your mortgage payment to the bank: some of us also have our home insurance lumped into that amount. The bank pays the premium. "Uh, why cant that money be used on my principle balance?" Duh? Gimmie a break!

    If any on you wonder why Lodi High is getting these funds, along with the other schools, go ask for a tour of the restrooms. Go sit in a classroom in August or September when it's 95 degrees outside and 90 degrees inside, and try to concentrate on the teachers presentation of the material. Or go visit some of the older elementary schools 50's vintage restrooms that have had little to no work done on them.

    Knowledge is power.

  • Josh Morgan posted at 1:38 pm on Wed, Apr 27, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 542

    Doug, I assume you are talking about Diede Construction. I just went to their website (diedeconstruction.com) to look at the projects they've done. The majority of their projects are all over the valley and I would say half were public projects and half private projects. I'm familiar enough with the business to know you're not going to get away with over charging for long. It will eventually catch up to you. The fact that they've had pickets means nothing to me. That's what happens when you do as much business as they do.

  • Betty Dean posted at 10:59 am on Wed, Apr 27, 2011.

    Betty Dean Posts: 144

    @ Doug, I totally agree with you and thats because LUSD is sooo warped and are crooks!
    Also if the Contractor is "in" on this scheme then they are just as guilty!

  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:28 am on Wed, Apr 27, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Mr. Morgan, you need to have the construction and bid savvy I learned in my 29 years in the construction industry. There are many ways to allow this contractor to always be the low bidder unless the insiders who perpetuate these possible bid rigging schemes actually rat on themselves. I notice many projects for this certain contractor always end up with overly large percentages of extra work and change order monies after the job has been finded and the contractors paid. One elaborate scheme is to inform the pandered contractor what the ballpark figure is for these "extra" profits without allowing any other bidding contractor the same privileged information, therefor giving them a guaranteed advantage on submitting the winning bid. This contractor has had pickets many times at their yard for unfair labor practices, unfair wages and substandard work, I believe, yet they still are the choice of contractor for this area. This is one of several schemes used by union and non-union contractors alike. Again, I see their past bid numbers on public works websites in this Northern California area and they are usually among the highest bidders, yet in the Lodi area, usually allways the lowest. Seems like a little more than ironic to me.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 8:07 pm on Tue, Apr 26, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Pat stated...However, I WOULD like to clarify for your district...sometimes, monies taken from the state are mandated to be used for re-construction, repairs and maintenance, as well as new construction, these funds often accrue over a period of years.

    Pat... exactly why I stated that the system is broken... no flexibility to do what is right ... mandated anything is all political and makes no effort to take real needs into account. I appreciate your comments...thanks!!

  • Josh Morgan posted at 5:57 pm on Tue, Apr 26, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 542

    Doug, I just don't understand your disgust with local contractor's winning local bids. I WANT local contractor's to win those contracts. I WANT local citizens to shop at local businesses. It just bugs the heck out of me when friends tell me they went to Sacramento or any other City and saved a few bucks on some job or some product. I'd personally like to see local businesspeople receive bids if they are within 5% of the low bidder. I can look eyeball to eyeball with a local businessperson. An out of town contractor comes into town, does their work and you don't see them again. Local businesses employ local people. They pay local taxes and contribute to the community.

  • Sam Heller posted at 5:21 pm on Tue, Apr 26, 2011.

    Sam Heller Posts: 176

    Darrell, great comments. You wrote what I wanted to. Nice.

    I love "I would rather build a tent city like Sheriff Joe if it meant smaller class size and better professionals to educate our children... the public school system should be closed". So true. Our government controlled education system is failing.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 4:56 pm on Tue, Apr 26, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    This is just another means, along with the city of Lodi to keep their favorite local contractor from going belly up. Hasn't Lodi and LUSD always been very inept at maintaining anything they own and then crying wolf when it's ready to crumble to the ground? Many know this almost always grants the work to the same contractor over and over again and after each project is finished, there aalways seems to be extra work and added profits due to a large amount of change orders to further profit this same contractor. One prime example is the $178,000 bus stop (approx. 12x12) at Loel center, and another being the new vehicle maintenance building, with work at Kofu park and hundreds of thousands of dollars in change order work over and above the contract bid to assure this contractor was low bidder and then, I'm assuming, with help from public works, a hint on what ball park figure would assure that low bid. The same would hold true with LUSD and those department heads who also seem to pander to this same local contractor, too. Why aren't all of these projects split into seperate contracts and posted on Bidsync, which lists all prevailing wage job bids for most schools and government funded entities? If the city of Lodi and LUSD put these bids out on Bidsync, there would be real competitive bidders from reputable contractors at fair prices from the entire Northern CA area, not just the same local contractor with city or LUSD connections. I subscribe to this website and never see any publics works jobs that originate from Lodi? Why? Is it to protect the same old contractor who can only wind a bid in the Lodi area, usually only with the city or school district? I see jobs they bid in Stockton, SJ county and this immediate area and they always appear to be one of the 4 highest bidders on outside contracts. Why are they usually low bidders in Lodi and LUSD? If this bidding system for Lodi and LUSD reached other entities through websites like BidSync, that $4.4 million could perpetuate possibly twice as much work and projects with fair and competitive bidding from Fresno to Sacramento, and even further.

  • Patrick W Maple posted at 4:42 pm on Tue, Apr 26, 2011.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    Far be it from me that I would want to start an argument...nor defend a school district that has not spent it's money in a judiscious manner...I look to the north and see a much more flighty bunch (at least 3 of the 5 for 6 years). Three votes is all it took.

    However, I WOULD like to clarify for your district...sometimes, monies taken from the state are mandated to be used for re-construction, repairs and maintenance, as well as new construction, these funds often accrue over a period of years. In accepting the funds the districts hands are tied...the money MUST be used for the purposes it was granted for. If it is not used as granted the state can demand that it be returned.

    Some of the money that is being used, I am sure, comes from defered maintenance funding...money put aside each year for just such purposes (most often it gathers interest in a separate account until the projects are let out). When handled properly this fund can create revenue for the projects.

    Where I will disagree with this administration is how it was presented to the public. They may have notified the public but certainly not well enough. I do agree with DB in that the manner of delivering an education needs to change drastically...dealing with a T-rex system is idiotic. It NEEDS to be modernized...and streamlined. But that involves people who care and frankly I don't see many in the system...or for that matter outside of the system, who do.

  • Jerry Belluomini posted at 2:32 pm on Tue, Apr 26, 2011.

    Jerry Belluomini Posts: 10

    "This brick-and-mortar money cannot go toward staff salaries or programs."

    “Certainly these are desperate times for Lodi Unified,” Hand said. “That being true, the district still has an obligation to provide the best, safest and healthiest facilities it can. While monies are available to do this work, it will be done.”

    After laying off hundreds of teachers Lodi Unified has the nerve to pull this out of their hat and not think they were not going to get some flak. Do you people have your heads on straight or is it somewhere else. Not only will there be much overtime, but the project WILL go ever budget and next year they will layoff more good teachers. You are right Betty this is not funny..........

  • Betty Dean posted at 10:49 am on Tue, Apr 26, 2011.

    Betty Dean Posts: 144

    It's just a way to justify Facilities and Planning and the large amounts of money that they are Paid. Not to mention all of the overtime for the guys doing the work. They can only reblacktop on the weekends!
    LUSD is such a fiscal mess it is NOT even funny.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:20 am on Tue, Apr 26, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    as stated below...the public school system should be closed...

    clarification... like a bankruptcy, it is liquidated but then reorganized without having to have obligations and restrictions that were locked in stone prior to the bankruptcy...

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:16 am on Tue, Apr 26, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    This brick-and-mortar money cannot go toward staff salaries or programs...

    Just another symptom that the public school system is broken... the repairs are not immediately needed... but since the money is there... use it or loose it...
    that is a crime...in my view, the building is nothing... quality education is irreplaceable... I would rather build a tent city like Sheriff Joe if it meant smaller class size and better professionals to educate our children... the public school system should be closed; the national , state, and local public school bureaucracy terminated ( and replaced with something more efficient, lean and small).. direct state control of local education eliminated... then watch the $9,000 per student expense drop much lower, and funds available for local people to decide how to best educate our children... same old... same old ...not good enough any more... “There has got to be a better way”

  • Brian Dockter posted at 8:48 am on Tue, Apr 26, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    “Since that time, the district has constructed — then dramatically expanded and improved — the facilities at Bear Creek High, built McNair High and rebuilt Tokay High from the structural members up,” he said. “Simply stated, it is Lodi High’s time to receive the facility improvements that it very desperately needs.”

    -And I still remember all the patchwork they had to do to the exterior walls at Tokay shortly after it was built. Structurally, Lodi High is superior to Tokay. Yet it has not recieved nearly enough modernizations.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 8:42 am on Tue, Apr 26, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    The west campus, for those who remember it being called that, hasn't had near
    the improvements needed. In fact, except for the new gym, it has remained virtually
    unchanged since it it was built some 40 years ago. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see
    the same large tin cans or garbage cans to catch the water in the classrooms and hallways.



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