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Plum School Board approves revised agreement with Russo

| Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Russo Construction Services is getting more money to manage the new Holiday Park Elementary School construction project.

The Plum School Board at last week's meeting voted unanimously to approve a revised agreement with Russo Construction Services of Plum that pays the company owned by Dennis Russo, the district's construction representative, an additional $63,000 for managing construction of the new Holiday Park Elementary School, a two-story, 75,000-square-foot building.

The company will receive the money over a 14-month period — from Dec. 1 through February 2015 — according to the board motion.

Prior to the board's approval of the additional amount, the district was paying Russo Construction Services $9,800 a month to manage the project.

The additional money boosts the monthly payment to $14,300.

Russo told board members during a facilities-committee meeting earlier this month that he needs the additional money because he will be taking on more management duties.

Russo said the duties stem from the project going to multiple prime contractors, as the district was directed by the Pennsylvania School Code, rather than with one prime contractor.

Russo said the prime or general contractor on the Pivik Elementary School project — Nello Construction of Canonsburg — managed the other contractors and performed clerical duties associated with the job.

Board members in November voted to approve four contracts totaling nearly $15.2 million for general construction; plumbing and fire protection; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; and electrical work.

Russo said he will be required to do the work, and he needs to hire a couple of employees to assist him.

Former Plum School Board President Andrew Drake, who last month lost his bid for re-election, prior to the board's vote last week urged members to vote to approve the increase for Russo Construction Services.

“The district carries the risk,” Drake said. “There is no Nello Construction (the prime contractor on the Pivik Elementary School project) to manage issues among contractors.”

Board member Michelle Stepnick asked for a breakdown of how the company will spend the additional money.

District officials said they would provide a list to all board members.

Russo's company also is managing the $70 million elementary center construction project in the Penn Hills School District.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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