Pribramsky begins work on HOB audit

skinney@keynoter.comMay 11, 2013 

Construction, plagued by a series of cost overruns, is all but finished at the $40 million rebuild of Horace O'Bryant Middle School. The Monroe County School Superintendent appears ready to hire an outside auditor to review financials. Keynoter photo by SEAN KINNEY

BY SEAN KINNEY — skinney@keynoter.com

Former District 1 Monroe County School Board member Steve Pribramsky, an accountant and auditor by trade, hopes to start a review of the financial and construction records related to the three-year, $40 million rebuild of Horace O'Bryant Middle School in Key West.

Superintendent Mark Porter executed an agreement with Pribramsky on Thursday afternoon that is set to initially cost between $15,000 and $18,000, which falls below Porter's $25,000 spending threshold.

The contract runs from May 10 to June 30.

The hire, although already done, is up for discussion by the School Board at a Tuesday workshop beginning at 3 p.m. at administrative offices on Trumbo Point.

Porter opted to bring in an outside auditor given months of pressure from board member Ed Davidson and Stuart Kessler, a member of the district's advisory Audit and Finance Committee, and following the sudden departure of former administrator Michael Kinneer, who has handled HOB financials since 2010.

Pribramsky said he'd sit down with Davidson on Monday to review all of the research and analysis already completed.

"This has been a long and extended construction effort and it is necessary and appropriate at this time to invest some additional resources into the successful closure of this important project," Porter said.

He said Pribramsky's firm Pribramsky and Zuelch, with offices in Key West, Marathon and Islamorada, "has the best expertise and immediate availability to meet the needs of Monroe County schools."

In a nod to Davidson and Kessler, Porter said, "It is their initial work that has helped define and focus the further efforts needed at this time."

The HOB project has been mired in problems including a complete redesign to comply with city height limits; the discovery of compromised soil foundation that had to be replaced; the exclusion of an essential parking lot; and myriad instances of what Davidson has challenged as questionable accounting.

Kessler and Davidson have complained that documents provided by Coastal Construction are insufficient and don't meet reporting requirements outlined in the construction contract.

Pribramsky, who only served one four-year term, was a dogged critic of the School District finances at the time and led the charge to overhaul the administration during and following the downfall of then-Superintendent Randy Acevedo and his wife Monique, then the adult education coordinator.

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