|Alabama school building approval process changes analyzed|
A study group is examining concerns that the Alabama Legislature's approval this year of a bill to move the oversight of school construction projects of $500,000 or less from the Division of Construction Management state agency to local school boards has slowed projects and led to increased costs. Representatives of the construction industry and architecture groups, as well as the state fire chiefs association, oppose DCM’s loss of oversight, saying it was an important, independent review of safety and code compliance in school buildings. However, Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, chair of the study group, says local school systems, architects, and contractors should be responsible for making sure buildings are designed and constructed according to code because, if they don’t, "it will cost them money up front and it will cost them in the end in lawsuits." While concerns remain, the study group is at present recommending the restoration of some of DCM’s oversight.