The Insider Team will be providing information related to the Lee's Summit R-7 School District (LSR7) Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan (CFMP) in a number of installments to support a better community understanding of the processes followed. This is the first installment.
Many of us know that LSR7 hired a team of outside consultants, DLR Group/GouldEvans/LINK Communications, to assist with the 2018-2019 update of the Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan. For their work on the Preliminary Design Phase, LSR7 has paid them $259,450.36 for Phase I work.
LSR7 also purchased a subscription to ThoughtExchange; the district does use the platform for many other internal and external exchanges. That service has a price tag of around 34K per year.
These costs do not include the number of hours that LSR7 employees have spent on the CFMP nor the district's internal expenses related to CFMP.
"Why Did We Do This?"
One of the primary reasons for spending this particular money was to gauge what stakeholders preferred, thought necessary and then use that to design a plan for the future use of LSR7 facilities. As many citizens would attest, it has been a rocky process to date. Now is a good time to consider whether this money was spent well and helped our district in the long term so that the community is better informed when making upcoming district decisions. So, let's dig in.
First, what was the scope of work that these consultants were to perform? From Board Docs, we know the contract was awarded to cover the following:
460 hours to work with instructional leaders to understand the LSR7 curriculum management plan and instructional design
900 hours to conduct a facilities analysis and develop short and long-term solutions for facility needs
278 hours of engagement with staff, parents, and members of the community to solicit their input to frame potential solutions
And, what will it cost? The awarded contract amount was $263,670 plus expenses.
Section 6 of the contract covers compensation. It is not clear from the contract whether the firm was to bill their time and expenses monthly or by progress payments monthly as both are indicated within this section of the contract. The district was billed and paid through progress payments; however, no description of work accompanied these invoices. You can see the Preliminary Design phase invoices from the DLR group here and a summary table below.
Questions remaining on the DLR Group payments include:
1. What exactly did each month cover in terms of hours and work provided?
2. What was printed at such a high rate?
3. Why were we paying for airfare if the firm is based in Overland Park, KS?
We have hit some roadblocks in getting solid answers to those questions, but let's keep moving forward.
Next up → → → billing aside, what was accomplished?
According to the contract, Exhibit A provided a working draft timeline. As you can see in the figure below, the completed master plan was to be ready to go by February 2019; however, this timeline does not coincide with the timeline provided on the LSR7 CFMP page.
Further, it appears that it should have also covered Phase II. So, if we aren't finished with the full scope of work, then:
where are we in the process?
And, did we get our final comprehensive plan from the consultants?
If so, does the plan reflect what the stakeholders intended?
(And, with only about 16K left in the budget, how much more did LSR7 pay the consultants after Phase I?)
Dated June 2019, the consultants provided a document which was not the updated comprehensive facilities master plan, but rather a playbook for decisions.
"Why don't we have a finalized CFMP?"
It turns out that that is a complicated question. To answer requires looking deeper at the CFMP itself as well as stakeholder input. Upcoming installments will include a look at the community input on boundaries, transportation, equity, class sizes, 6th graders in middle schools, new buildings, and how the district considered the feedback received from the community.
Until then, stay tuned!