Horry County School Chairman explains why the board selected most expensive bidding architect

CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WBTW) – Wednesday, members of the Horry County School Board held a public forum in Carolina Forest to explain their reason for selecting the most expensive bidding architect to build its new schools.

Board Chairman Joe Defeo spoke for more than an hour to the Carolina Forest Civic Association as well as answered questions from people in attendance.

Defeo said the district decision was not based on a low bid. He says First Floor Architects was the only company to meet the districts criteria by 100 percent. As well as promise to build the schools by the district’s required timeline.

However First Floor’s total cost, including site work like roads, is millions more than even the second highest bidder and their designs changed the district’s original conceptual plans.

“As a board chairman, as a teacher, as principal, as a parent do you want a class that’s build with no windows in it,” said Defeo.

Defeo says in his opinion all bidding architects should have fixed the conceptual design flaws, but not every member of the actual voting committee agreed.

“Some people counted First Floor out because they changed from the conceptual design so much, but other’s decided no they fixed the problem they were allowed to switch from them that’s an individual vote and I can’t speak for them,” said Defeo.

The district also paid a consultant, Louis Baston $40k to help with the decision making process.

Baston did not choose First Floor Architects either, but Defeo says that is not why they paid Baston.

“I told you he shouldn’t have been hired. He should have been fired and we should try to get our money back,” said Defeo.

The schools were supposed to be completed by May 1st of this year, but Defeo tells me the district could be responsible for delaying that.

The reason is the district is still in the process of closing on its final property and still needs to demolish a building. Defeo says the delays would only push the schedule back a few months.

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