The school-aged population of the State of Georgia has soared in recent years. Consequently, many school systems have embarked on extensive construction and renovation projects in order to accommodate the increasing numbers of students. School construction raises many legal issues. First, school systems may finance new school construction through a variety of methods, including directly from local ad valorem tax receipts and the state capital outlays program, through general obligation bond issues, through lease purchase agreements (sometimes divided and sold as certificates or participation), or through special purpose local option sales taxes (SPLOST). Regardless of the source of funding, all public school construction contracts in excess of $100,000 must be publicly advertised and awarded through an open and competitive bidding process.1
Local boards must contract with architects, contractors and construction managers. Those contracts and the disputes arising out of them lead to legal conflict and sometimes litigation. Construction litigation is often time-consuming, costly and leads to unsatisfactory results. Every effort should be made by boards of education and their superintendents to monitor construction contracts and disputes and intervene early with legal assistance to ensure that problems do not turn into lawsuits. This chapter will discuss issues related to construction contracts from funding issues to performance issues. Also discussed will be other legal issues related to contracts which may be entered into by boards of education.