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2001 Opinions

Date:   April 12, 2001
Prepared By:   Margaret O'Sullivan Parker
Phone:   (850) 488-7707
Suncom:   278-7707
Opinion No.:   01-03
Staff Contact:   Jon Hamrick
MEMORANDUM OPINION
TO: Edward J. Marko, Broward County School Board Attorney
FROM: James A. Robinson, General Counsel
SUBJECT: Reuse of architect's plans for a middle school pursuant to Section 287.055, Florida Statutes
RE: Statutory provisions permitting school boards to reuse architectural plans.

QUESTION PRESENTED: Whether Section 287.055(11), Florida Statutes, would permit reuse of plans under the following situation.

CONCLUSION: No, the proposed modifications as described in your letter would constitute changes that exceed minor alterations for site specifications, and therefore exceed the scope of reuse contemplated by Section 287.055(11), Florida Statutes.

DISCUSSION: The School Board of Broward County, Florida is proposing, without competitive negotiation, to reuse an architect's plan from an elementary school at a middle school. There will be modification in re-locating the bathrooms from the individual classrooms in the elementary school plan to a group location more suitable for middle school students. Section 287.055 (11), Florida Statutes, provides for the reuse of architectural plans for construction projects:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, there shall be no public notice requirement or utilization of the selection process as provided in this section for projects in which the agency is able to Reuse existing plans from a prior project of the agency, or, in the case of a board as defined in chapter 235, a prior project of that or any other board. Except for plans of a board as defined in chapter 235, public notice for any plans that are intended to be reused at some future time must contain a statement that provides that the plans are subject to reuse in accordance with the provisions of this subsection.

This law does not address whether the plans may be modified. This office has opined that it should not be construed to prohibit modifications necessary to conform the plans to site specifications such as elevation or building orientation. To permit no modifications at all would frustrate the purpose of the statute

However, care should be taken when considering any other proposed modifications to the original plans. As noted in Opinion No. 98-01, the elimination of competitive bidding is permitted because the plans have already gone through the process at the original school district, and can therefore be considered to meet the "fair, competitive and reasonable" requirement of Section 287.055(5)(a), Florida Statutes. Any deviation from the original plan would not have been part of the original competitive bidding process.

This office concluded in Opinion No. 98-01 that a school board's proposed modification to the roof and reconfiguration of the heating and air conditioning system was a significant change in the plans that could not be done under Section 287.055(11), Florida Statutes. You have proposed that the changes contemplated by the Broward County School Board will be of a minor rather than significant nature.

To that end, I asked Jon Hamrick, Construction Planning and Design Manager with the Department's Bureau of Educational Facilities, to review the scope of Broward County's proposed modification to the plans. Mr. Hamrick has advised me that only minor changes to re-use plans should be made, such as changing colors or building plaques, or changing the designation, but not function, of a classroom (e.g., changing a math classroom to an English classroom). Any other modifications, such as relocating a door, changing the function of a room or rearranging space, would exceed the purposes of reuse.

The removal of restroom facilities from individual classrooms to an aggregated location would necessitate the alteration of structural and plumbing components, and would likely require the alteration of floor plans. Therefore, the proposed modifications as described in your letter would constitute a change that goes beyond minor alterations for site specifications.

Please contact me if we may be of any further assistance in this matter.

cc: Jon Hamrick, Bureau of Educational Facilities

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