On Feb. 1, the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education held a Special Meeting during which the board authorized staff to prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Bond Management Services related to the district’s construction program. The board approved the item with a 4-1 majority, with Noah Margo casting the sole objecting vote.
Currently, Don Blake serves as Senior Executive Bond Program Manager, and his company, Team Concept Development Services, Inc. (TCDS) is listed as the “Bond Manager” in the agreement with the district. The five-year contract between BHUSD and TCDS, which the board approved in 2017 without a bidding process, will expire on July 17, 2022. While Blake has helmed the district’s construction program since then, it’s unclear if he will ultimately remain after the RFP process. At the board’s direction, school staff will prepare an RFP draft for the board to review and provide feedback on in two weeks.
“Last night, the Board of Education took action to authorize the preparation of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Bond Management Services to be presented by the administration in draft form to the Board in the next two weeks,” BHUSD Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy said in Feb. 2 correspondence sent to families. “No other action was taken, and all building projects will continue under their current contracts.”
Bregy added, “As Superintendent, my commitment to BHUSD starts with our students, staff, and families. However, I must also acknowledge the wider community of Beverly Hills. Thank you to our neighbors across the city who support the building projects in our school district. You continue to enable us to grow and modernize our facilities ensuring a state-of-the-art offering for our students.”
Board members insisted that the issue taken up was not Blake, TCDS or the quality of work being done, but rather how the board conducts business, proper governance, and accountability. “We are in support of the program, yet we would like to go through a process to understand that what we are getting is market,” Gabriel Halimi said.
Since 2017, Blake has overseen the modernization at Beverly Hills High School including completion of buildings B1 and B2, as well as other projects. The work is funded by taxpayer dollars through the district’s general obligation bonds, Measure E and Measure BH. According to the agreement, TCDS would receive 2.5% of the total construction costs of the projects and is compensated for services related to bond management. According to board President Mary Wells, Blake reported a $129 million budget shortfall for the construction program in October of 2021.
“We, as a board, currently have a responsibility for overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars related to our five school sites and well-being of over 3000 students,” President Mary Wells said. “This program is critical to improve our schools and to provide the best and safest learning environments for our students today, and to attract future students and families from Beverly Hills. At the very least, to fulfill our obligations, we need to ensure that we are getting the best value with the dollars required to complete this program.”
“It would be wonderful to have continuity of the program,” Halimi added. “We may find that, we may not, but that’s why we have to go through a process.”
The next Board of Education meeting will be held Feb. 22 at 5 p.m.