News 13 Investigates Horry County School Board’s selection of most expensive architect company

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – News 13 investigated Horry County School District numbers and found according district numbers two companies tied for votes and the Board selected the higher costing company.

News 13 was able to obtain the voting and scoring sheets from the procurement committee that ranked the three finalist architect companies bidding for the district’s school building plan.

Monday the Horry County Board of Education announced they selected First Floor Architects to build all five of the county’s new schools.

First Floor has the most expensive proposal out of the three bidding architect companies.

First Floor’s total cost, including site work like roads around the schools, is $240 million.

The district original budget was $167 million; a $73 million difference.

First Floor’s proposal was $21 million more than runner up Thompson Turner Construction’s offer, and $36 million more than third runner up M.B. Kahn Construction.

News 13 spoke to board chairman Joe Defeo on the phone; he said the board’s decision was based off the 10 person committee’s recommendations.

The ten person committee was made up of five board members and five district officials. They rated each architect’s design.

In the district documents of the voting process, an average score was compiled of each school design by the architects. And according to the average, First Floor architects wins the bid.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Three committee members, who gave First Floor the highest scores, scored the other companies so low; it brought down their total averages.

However, if you treat each committee member’s score like a vote, there would be a tie — between First Floor and Thompson Turner.

Chairman Joe Defeo says he will not speak for the committee members, but he made his decision based on the numbers presented to him. Numbers he said were compiled over months of time.

There is still a window of time where a protest may be filed on the district’s selection.


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