By Kelsey Ryan
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The Joplin School Board voted unanimously in a closed session Tuesday night to terminate its contract with a company that was hired to demolish three storm-destroyed Joplin schools because of “lack of performance.”
Urban Metropolitan Development, based in Atlanta, Ga., had won the contract to demolish and remove the debris of Irving Elementary School, the old South Middle School and Joplin High School.
The contractor sued the school district in federal court earlier this month, alleging that the company had not received progress payments. The company also claims that the district owes it money for the removal of water from the JHS basement that flooded in the wake of the tornado.
The owner of Urban Metro did not return calls for comment for this story.
The board’s vote in closed session was released to the Globe on Thursday by Superintendent C.J. Huff. The district is seeking bids for a new contractor to finish the jobs, Huff said. Officials hope to find a contractor who can start the project on June 1 and complete the work within 45 days.
“We’ve treated all of that material as asbestos-contaminated material that will have to be put in the back of trucks, covered and hauled,” Huff said. “(New contractors) will have to find a place to accept it as asbestos-contaminated material.”
The timeline for finishing demolition at the site of the old high school will not affect the rebuilding efforts for the new school because it will be located to the south, he said.
In October, Urban Metro was awarded a contract for $155,322 to demolish the high school and a contract for $134,230 to demolish the old South Middle School. In November, it was awarded a contract for $139,260 to demolish Irving.
Huff said the company left the JHS site on Wednesday without incident. He said there is some work left at the Irving and South sites, but the main concern is the high school. The new contractor will have to submit plans to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources if workers come across asbestos-contaminated debris, Huff said.
Huff said officials are not sure of the cost for hiring a new contractor, but he estimates it to be at least six figures. The next lowest bids on the original projects were $400,000 more than those of Urban Metro.
THE SCHOOL DISTRICT may pursue damages from the company, which is months behind the original 60-day time frame for completing the project, Superintendent C.J. Huff said.