Thursday, December 5, 2019

December 5 Update

The high school project has been advertised to bidders for a couple of weeks now. At last check, three companies had requested plans. Subcontractors are working on their bids and will be submitting to the General Contractors who have pulled plans. We've advertised in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce as well as in the Lewis County News, The Daily News and the Chronicle. I'm hearing from folks in our community that they're planning to submit subcontractor bids. Wishing everyone good fortune as we move forward.

We'll have a meeting for interested General Contractors on Dec. 10 so that they can get an on-site view of the project and ask questions of the architects and engineers. Bidding will close on January 14 with bid opening at 3:15 p.m. at the Toledo District Office.

We're tentatively planning on a ceremonial groundbreaking on January 31 at 4 p.m. The project is scheduled to officially begin on February 3.

We've arranged with ToledoTel to install a video camera on the stadium that will stream live video of the project. We plan to include this view on the kiosks we've installed at the schools and at the Community Library and Post Office. We'll also have a view available on our website. This will give community members the opportunity to watch construction in real time 24/7.

Our architects from IBI Group will be on hand on Monday Dec. 16 to give students at THS a virtual reality "walk through" of the new school. Using VR technology, students will be able to "look around" the new school. Should be an exciting morning.

By clicking this link, you'll see IBI's presentation to the Building Committee last month. It includes floor plans and phasing as well as some interior renderings. Those pages have a QR code in the upper right corner.  Use your smartphone's camera to capture a code. It should take you to a Virtual Reality version of that area of the  high school. By moving your phone around, you can see what the school is planned to look like inside.

Everyone is getting very excited for the start of construction. A lot of work has gone into the design and engineering of the building. We've done quite a bit of work to minimize change orders and to try to predict where there will be uncertainties. We're looking forward to seeing the plans begin to take shape.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

October 31 Update

We're working to get all of the government agencies to sign off on our construction plans in preparation for bidding in late November. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) needs to give us permission to go to bid. Agencies such as the County Health Department, Building Department, Energy, Labor and Industries and others are required to review and approve our plans before OSPI will green light our bid process. We plan to post our first advertisement for bids on November 26. Most of our agency reviews are complete and will be submitted to OSPI soon.

Our plans have also been submitted to an independent architectural/engineering firm for constructibility review. These consultants review our plans to be sure that they are clear and that errors and omissions are reduced. I think of this process like proofreading for construction. In addition, we've submitted our plans for a final cost estimate to confirm that we've prepared a project that is likely to be bid within our budget.

The building committee plans to meet on November 12 to review and approve the materials for the interior spaces. They'll also get a look at the Virtual Reality renderings of the interior. There are two views of the Commons space at these links. By clicking and dragging, you can get a 360* view of the space as it is designed.

Commons from Main Entrance. 
Commons from gym access corridor.

These pages take awhile to load, so be patient.

We've begun work with a consultant to identify furniture, fixtures and equipment that can be retained, repurposed and refinished. She'll also work with us to identify items that need to be replaced. We're in the process of inventorying artwork and heritage items (like David Ike's portrait and composite photos of our graduating classes) so that they can be properly stored and a place for them can be prepared in the new school.

Our schedule calls for the first ad for bids will be on November 26. Our  second ad will be on December 3. We'll have a pre-bid walk on December 10. The final addendum will be January 7. Bid opening will be one week later on January 14. Construction will start on February 3. The first things that people will notice are the construction fences going up and the new main entrance to the school being constructed.

We encourage all local tradespeople to make themselves aware of the bid documents and to participate in bidding. It is our hope that our school can be built by local people to the extent that bid laws allow. We plan to advertise heavily in the local area and on our Facebook page, website and this blog so that our local tradespeople can participate fully in this process.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Its Just a Phase

The new high school will be built in five phases beginning in February, 2020 and concluding in August, 2021. Phasing the project allows us to continue to operate school while construction is underway without spending funds on modular buildings and relocating. The drawings in this post all utilize the same color scheme: Green denotes the contractor's area. No students or staff will be allowed in this area during the phase. Blue is a shared area. This is the main drive into and out of the site. Orange denotes the area under construction during the phase. Keeping these colors in mind will help you understand what is happening during the phase.

One of the first things that will happen is the front entrance to the building will be fenced off along with all of the exterior doors to the gym and commons. A new (temporary) front entrance will be created at the site of the current Spanish classroom in the Classroom wing. All entrance and exit from the building will be through this door during construction.
Phase One

Note the new front entrance (in orange). Student parking will be at the baseball field. Students will come to the school via the new pathway and crosswalk and enter through the new front entrance. Phase One will be from Feb.-June of 2020. Construction fencing will be installed and the construction area will be set up for contractor's use along with a temporary fire lane. Site work will commence to prepare for new construction including the transformer and chiller enclosures. In April, the gym and locker rooms will be closed off and renovation of these spaces will begin.

Phase Two 

In June -August 2020, the locker room renovations are nearing completion, site work continues and construction on new classrooms, offices, kitchen and commons gets underway. The Business Lab gets moved to a new location in the Classroom wing and renovations begin on the Shops. A new boiler room begins to take shape as well as the plumbing that attaches to it. Changes to the Art room and Ag classrooms are underway. In this phase, the tennis courts are converted to visitor and staff parking. This will continue throughout construction. The plan is to restore the tennis courts with grants and partnerships after construction is completed.

Phase Three

This phase begins in September of 2020 and continues through December. Focus of this phase is to complete all new construction, site work and boiler/chiller installations with service to the new facilities. During winter break of this year, staff and students will move in and occupy the new spaces- classrooms, offices, commons, kitchen etc. In addition, displaced services will be moved to the Classroom wing to allow for renovation of those spaces- Art, CTE, Family and Consumer Sciences, etc.

Phase Four

January to June of 2021 will see us working to renovate and remodel the interior spaces of the current building. This includes new Science classrooms a new Business Lab a new Family and Consumer Sciences classroom and a new Learning Commons (Library). This means that those classes will meet in vacated classrooms in the old Classroom wing (existing Library). You'll note in this phase that the temporary entrance has been replaced by the new front entrance and that the student parking lot is restored. The new main parking lot configuration will be started at this time.

Phase Five

In this phase, we finish off the construction of the new school and parking lot and demolish the Classroom wing. Phase five takes place during the Summer of 2021 and is expected to be completed in time for school to start that year. A new outdoor classroom space is planned for the area occupied by the Classroom wing along with a new loading dock and service yard near the kitchen. A new greenhouse will be installed on the site of the current hoop house. You'll notice an increase in the amount of parking available as well as clear traffic patterns serving the school and the stadium. This, along with new pathways, crosswalks and signage will make pedestrian traffic safer at all times of the day and night.

These plans are still "broad brush strokes", but will likely not change too much in the coming months. As always, if you would like to see a copy of the permit plans, you're welcome to stop by the office or call for an appointment to chat about the project.

Monday, September 23, 2019

September Update

Since my last update, the design team has been working to make the community's desires for the new high school fit inside the existing budget. This has been a difficult process and I believe we are nearing success in that regard. Here's what we've been working on:

The community referred design "Option 6" to the board for approval in late April. Our architects, engineers, landscape designers, project managers and district staff then began the work of developing that design. We looked at our educational specifications, predicted costs, principles of good design and engineering as well as the desires expressed by the community. During this phase of design, we received our first cost opinion. The estimators indicated that our initial design would cost over $2 million more than our budget. We went back to work looking for ways to reduce the cost of the design.

This took us to June when we submitted the design to a Value Engineering team. This is a group of professionals who mirror our design team. Their task is to examine our design and look for ways to reduce costs and increase utility of the design. Even after our first round of cost-cutting, the VE team found that we were still an additional $2 million over budget. The first recommendation of the VE team was to renovate the entire building and not build any new structures. We immediately rejected this suggestion as our community had told us in four previous bond attempts that renovation of the school was unacceptable. The VE team made several additional recommendations for cost savings that reduced square footage, pitched lower cost mechanical systems and reduced landscaping and paving costs. The Design Team accepted some of the recommendations and developed more of our own. We've reduced the overall square footage by approximately 4000 s.f from the initial design by eliminating classrooms and reorganizing interior spaces. Renovation of some spaces will be limited to lighting, acoustic and HVAC. Some features of the building were changed to add alternates. This means they'll be added if funds are available to do so.

We will have some low-slope roofs that will sheet off to surrounding roofs with a steeper pitch. We will not have any parapets or interior drains that trap water. We'll return the building to a boiler system and include a chiller so that all interior spaces will have heating and cooling. A boiler system will have a longer lifespan and be more straightforward and economic to maintain than the solution proposed in value engineering.

Landscaping will be minimal and will be done by students and the community according to a design developed by the landscape architects. The parking lot will receive an organizational makeover with separate bus loading zone from parent drop off and student parking. Lanes will be clearly marked and additional paths installed to separate pedestrians and vehicular traffic. There will also be an additional 50 parking spaces in the design along with better parking lot lighting.

Initially, our design team was working to get everything done by June 30 so that we could go to bid in November. The VE team recommended taking more time to develop the plans for bid and going to bid in December or January. The VE team felt that the quality of our plans would be improved and would reduce change orders. They also felt that we would get more and better bids at the beginning of 2020. From the VE team's perspective, waiting until December would ultimately save the district money.  The design team accepted that recommendation.

In order for us to go out to bid in December, we need to get approval from the State (OSPI). They require that we be able to "front fund" the project. While we do not have sufficient funds to build the project right now without State assistance ("front fund"), our cash flow analysis indicates that our current funds will take us to the end of 2020 before we need to rely on State Construction Assistance Program (SCAP) funds.

This afternoon, Dale Merten, COO for ToledoTel indicated that ToledoTel will provide the district with a $10 million letter of credit. With this letter, we will be able to demonstrate to OSPI that we can front fund our project. We are immensely grateful to ToledoTel, Dale Merten and Russ Ramsey for their generosity and willingness to support this project. ToledoTel has been and continues to be the leader in support of Toledo getting a new high school. While no money will change hands, this letter allows us to move forward. We estimate that the inflation savings between going to bid in December versus going to bid in August represents nearly a million dollars to the district.

In addition, ToledoTel is installing all of our district-purchased audio visual, security, networking infrastructure, and surveillance at no charge to the district. We expect to save an additional $400-$500,000 as a result.
This is the view upon entering the new school. Trophies will be displayed on the right of this hall and a "Hall of Fame" is envisioned for the right side as well as bench seating. Entry to the gym is via this hallway.

Once we have OSPI's approval, we'll go out to bid in  December, select a General Contractor in January and break ground in February. Plans were submitted to the County for permitting last week and are available for public review at the district office. We're polishing the plans now getting into very granular design decisions.

Work continues on finalizing cost estimates, materials and fixture selections. We've been working with consultants on the details of ingress and egress along with security and safety. We've also contracted with a consultant to assist with procurement of furniture, fixtures and equipment in order to maximize our buying power.

This drawing shows Phase I of the project that will begin in Feb. 2020 and continue through June. The focus of this phase is on the gym and locker room renovation as well as site preparation for the new classrooms. The area in green is construction zone. A new front entrance will be created that will go through what is now the Spanish language classroom. The remaining phases will be the subject of a subsequent blog post.

The district team continues to look for grants and incentives to reduce costs. We'll be applying for a competitive Rural Modernization Grant through the State. If funded, it could pay for significant portions of our fire suppression system.

IBI Group (architects) had some summer interns who took on the project of creating a model of the school. While not exact, it gives a good overview of what we can expect in our new school. In addition, there are some artist's renderings of some of the interior spaces. You can see some of these on our Facebook page.  Sometime in late October, we should get some virtual reality views of some of the interior spaces. This will allow viewers to "move around" in the space to see how all of the pieces of the design come together. Should be very exciting.

As I close this update, I just want to remind everyone that this is a work in progress. We're making and will continue to make decisions every day about this project. As we've said all along, we're working to provide the very best school we can within the budget that we've been entrusted with. While we've had to trim some features and space, I'm very pleased with the design and our progress on the project. As always, if you have questions, I invite you to contact me.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

End of May Update

The project continues on schedule. This past week, we met with the team from Sazan Environmental Engineering to do Value Engineering of the design. This process brings in an outside group of engineers and consultants to review the work that our team has done and provide advice on how the project can be improved for additional value and/or how costs can be reduced. The Sazan group will provide the team with some ideas that the Construction Committee will review.

Our landscape architects have developed some great ideas for reconfiguring the parking lots, bus and parent drop off zones. This design has a minimum of 150 parking places during the day and nearly 200 for evening events. This is a significant increase over the current capacity. In addition, traffic patterns are more well-defined and pedestrian walkways are separated from vehicular traffic for increased safety. (Notice the gravel path to the Baseball field that is separated from the road and the crosswalk between the stadium and the school.) Storm water is addressed by biofilters that are incorporated into the design to reduce runoff and pooling (green islands in the drawing).

Not included in this drawing is additional parking along the access road to the building through better striping of the road and signage. This adds additional space for events.

You'll notice that this design includes outdoor classrooms and an outdoor gathering area. By reducing the number of interior Science labs to two, we're saving money that can be used to develop the exterior into  a variety of classroom spaces. In addition to forestry and agriculture, the outdoor area will include a proper greenhouse and raised beds for planting vegetables and fruits. There will also be outdoor areas for the Art Room and Shops for storage, cleaning and project staging.

This design was created by members of the community and it is serving us well. The team from Sazan was impressed with the work that we've done so far. We continue to work on this design to make it fit within our budget, so you may see some changes to the designs as we move forward. The budget for this project has always been tight, so we're looking for ways to economize and deliver the best possible school with the resources available to us.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Project Updates

The Design Committee concluded it's work on April 25 and the Schematic Design is completed. Dale Merten will present the design to the board on May 16 with recommendation that the board accept the design. The committee developed a design that utilizes the existing gym, shops and the footprint of the commons. This was done as a cost-saving measure to be sure that the school could be built within budget. The design will add over 30,000 square feet of new facilities. Most of that is classrooms, commons, kitchen and office space. Locker rooms will be reconfigured to provide for PE and varsity locker room areas, offices and a training room. Improved Science lab spaces are planned along with an outdoor Science classroom. The Art room will grow in size and include space for a kiln. Shops will be reconfigured and modernized. Finally, the parking lot will be reconfigured to allow separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic as well as a designated bus zone separate from parking and private vehicle traffic.

I've heard some concerns about the fact that this project utilizes portions of the existing school rather than being a brand new structure. Toledo was granted a total of $20 million from the state if we were willing to tax ourselves to provide $7 million to the project. The language of  ESSB 6095 that grants Toledo $10 million is as follows:

"(7)(a) $10,000,000 of the appropriation in this section is provided solely for the Toledo school district;
(b) The Toledo school district must provide a local match equivalent to a minimum of $7,000,000. The local match may consist of cash; furniture, finishes, and equipment; or like-kind.
(c) If the Toledo school district cannot demonstrate to the office of the superintendent of public instruction that a local match pursuant to (b) of this subsection has been secured by June 30, 2019, the appropriation in (a) of this subsection shall lapse." (Sec. 5007)

The expectation of Rep. Richard DeBolt was that this money would be used to build a new school. What is proposed is a new school. It will be unlike the current school. Much of it will be new construction. It will be a new concept of Toledo High School. It will not look like the current high school. The Design Committee felt that utilizing portions of the building was a prudent way to address the project and utilize district assets and resources.

During the bond campaign, I heard from many in our community that they "knew someone" who said we could build a new school for $200/square foot (or some other low cost). Based on that and a school that is 68,000 sf, they concluded that we should be able to build an entirely new school for $25 million. This was shared around the community and took on a life of its own. The problem with these estimates are:
  1. Current construction costs are $346/sf
  2. Construction costs exclude soft costs such as permits, fees, consultant costs, architects, project managers and sales tax.
  3. The people quoting costs have a vested interest in us thinking they can do the job inexpensively.

You may have read that a brand new school would cost in excess of $40 million. That's true. With current construction and soft costs along with a larger footprint, $40 million is an accurate estimate for a brand new school. Like those who thought that we were going to get a brand new school based on "someone they know's" cost estimates, some folks are  worried that the district will ask for more money in order to complete the project. The district's message is and has always been, "We are going to build the very best school we can with the resources allocated to us." This means, we will build the best school we can for $27 million.

The Construction Committee will meet later this month to review the architect's progress. This is a smaller committee comprised of community members with construction experience and school staff. Dale Merten will again chair the committee. Their task will be to provide continuing input to the architects in order to be sure that the project is within budget and consistent with the vision of the Design Committee. In addition, this committee will review the design to be sure that it will serve students and staff well. In late June, the community will be invited to a meeting to review progress. Just before we go to bid in September, the community will be invited to see what is going out for bid. I encourage all to attend these meetings.

The design is shaping up nicely and we're working hard to squeeze every benefit we can out of the project with the resources available. This is going to be a tremendous new school worthy of the tax dollars you've invested. If you'd like more information, I invite you to contact me directly.

Friday, April 26, 2019

April 25 Design Update

Ross Parker and his team from DOWA-IBI presented the final schematic design last night to the assembled Design Committee. Over the past month, community members have worked to develop a design for the new school that builds on the community visioning meeting that took place last January and the school tours that followed soon after that. DOWA-IBI has worked to put those ideas into a design that is affordable, meets the educational specifications needed for a school that will serve 400 students and last for 50 years. 

The design that the committee developed includes modernizing the existing gym, music room and shops as well as repurposing the commons area to be a library and business lab. New construction will include a new commons, office spaces and 11 new classroom spaces. All together, 56% of our budget will be spent on new construction and the remainder on renovation of existing space.

Ross' team did several cost analyses beginning with not using any of the existing structure and building an entirely new facility. At $384/s.f. for 78,000 s.f., that represents a construction cost of $29.9 million. When the team factored in soft costs (permits, sales tax, consulting fees, etc.) the project cost becomes $41.9 million. This is $15 million over our budget. In order to build a brand new school within our current budget, we would need to reduce the size of our school to about 49,000 s.f. or about the size of the gym.

The Design Committee felt that a hybrid design that incorporates new construction and renovation was the most responsible use of resources.

It was remarkable to me that our final schematic design was delivered two years to the day of when Chuck Caley first proposed the idea that we could build a new school almost as cheaply as remodeling. To see Chuck's presentation to the Facilities Advisory Committee from April 25, 2017 go to this link.  Chuck envisioned a school that would retain the gym and shops and would build new in between. Costs have escalated since his presentation and the design is quite different, but the germ of the new school was there even two years ago. 

Now that the schematic design is complete, DOWA-IBI and their team will begin working on the thousands of details that go into developing the design into construction documents that can be used for bidding. A Construction Committee comprised of a few TSD staff and a few community members will begin advising DOWA-IBI on these designs. There will be community meetings where we'll be reporting out on progress as well as regular updates to this blog. If you missed last night's meeting, you can watch a video of the meeting in its entirety at this link. The sound and videography are not the best, but you can get a sense of what transpired.

We're excited to bring this new school to the community. It'll be a tremendous improvement and source of pride for Toledo. If you have questions about the process or plans, please contact me at the office.

Monday, April 15, 2019

April 15 Update

The Design Committee met last Thursday and reviewed two possible designs as well as discussing additional options to augment or depart from those designs. (For further discussion of those designs, see my previous blog post.) After some discussion of costs, it was clear that Option 6 was the only viable design that could be constructed within our budget. Option 6 will still be a tough squeeze for our available resources. We're awaiting firmer cost estimates that should be coming by the end of the month.

Here's why:
OSPI average construction costs in Washington State are: $368/sf for new construction; $246/sf for renovation. Some areas can be renovated less-expensively and we estimate these areas could be done for about $124/sf. In option 2, we would only have $75/sf for these less-expensive areas. All of these figures are construction costs only. They do not include the cost of architects, project manager, consultants, permits, or sales tax. These are called "soft costs". They are required for construction but don't show up in the building itself. These costs are estimated to be 40% of the total cost of the project. If you do the math, to build a 68,000 sf building would cost 68,000 x ($368 x 1.4) or $35 million. We don't have that much money and our educational specifications call for an additional 8-9,000 sf.

By saving the existing shops, gym and the footprint of the commons and music room and building a little over 31,000 sf, we believe we can achieve our goal of a new THS and meet our educational specifications within our budget of $26 million.

Our architects are developing the schematic design and getting firmer cost estimates. They plan to share this for the design committee's approval on April 25. We're working hard to meet this mark so that our architects have enough time to prepare all of the design and construction documents needed to go out to bid and to avoid costly change orders. Hastily-done plans create costly problems down the road.

By getting our schematic design approved this month, we'll continue to be on track to have our plans out in September. If we miss that mark, it will be the following July before we'll be able to go out to bid and we will lose an estimated 7% to inflation costs (about $1+ million)

Consultant reports continue to come in. We've gotten "green lights" from traffic and archeological/historical (no delays or additional costs). We're continuing to test the structure for composition so we know what to expect with renovation. Hazardous materials review, geotechnical and sensitive lands reviews are nearly done as is our site survey. All of those appear to be unremarkable in findings and we're hopeful for no delays or additional costs.

The committee voted on some interior finish options for carpet, tiles and paint. You can see how they voted here. Look for "Materials Voting" 1-6. While you're there, look at the additional drawings of option 6. They include a conceptual view of what the exterior of the school might look like with the included floor plan.

As the process continues, the architects will work with smaller groups to polish their designs and address cost concerns. If you'd like to participate in the work of the committee, you're invited to attend on April 25 at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

April 10 Update

There has been a lot of activity on the project since my last post. The Design Committee has been meeting weekly and working with Dowa-IBI on creating designs for the school. The committee has also been providing input on design issues such as traffic and parking, and circulation within the building. When they last met, they asked the architects to develop two designs and get some high-level cost estimates for the committee to consider at their next meeting. Here are the two designs they selected:

Option 2

Option 6 
Both designs incorporate the existing gym and shop spaces. These would be modernized. In option 6, the area that is currently the commons would be remodeled to serve as library (Learning Commons) and classroom space. 

Dowa-IBI's team is expected to report back on high-level cost estimates to help the committee make a selection between these two designs for development.

Pre-Design Activities: Survey field work is complete and a final report is expected this week. Same report for Geotechnical review of the site. Our natural resources report is expected in the next 2 weeks. Archeological review site visit is complete and a report is in process. Hazardous Materials field work  is approximately 80% complete. The remaining sampling should be complete in the next two weeks. (These are the people who look for asbestos, underground fuel tanks, PCBs, lead-based paint and the like.) Traffic survey is underway.

We've asked for our consultants to image the interior of our gym and shop walls to determine the configuration of the construction. They will also take core samples of the walls. We're expecting this testing to be done this week or next with reports to follow soon. We're also examining the existing building footings to ensure that they are capable of supporting the additional load of a pitched roof.

In consultation with Nichols Consulting, we've determined that portables will not be needed to house students during the project. We expect to be able to phase construction in such a way that temporary housing will not be required. This will save money that can be used in construction.

The next meeting of the Design Committee will be tomorrow, April 11 at 6 pm in the THS Library. All those interested are invited to attend. There will be no meeting on April 18 as Dowa-IBI will be developing the final schematic design. This design will be presented on April 25 at 6 pm in the THS Library. 

We continue to work to meet our design schedule so that we are ready to put our project "on the street" for bids in late September, 2019 and award the contract in early November. 

I've heard from a few tradespeople that they would like to be considered for work on this project. TSD is committed to involving as many local people as possible. We believe that tax dollars need to stay in our community and that our community members have a vested interest in the school being the best it can be. If you're interested, keep an eye out for Requests for Proposals in the Daily Journal of Commerce (Seattle) and on our website. All qualified local trades are encouraged to respond.

Friday, March 22, 2019

March 22 Update

Design Committee had its first meeting. The team collaborated on possible designs that would include retention of the existing gym. DOWA-IBI (architects) facilitated the meeting and provided lots of time for the 26 people in attendance to experiment with different configurations for the new school. No decisions have been made at this point. DOWA-IBI is working to develop some preliminary drawings that the team will evaluate on Thursday, March 28 at 6 p.m. at THS. We'll also get some idea of costs for these designs.

This is a photo of Bud Hawk Elementary in Bremerton. Community members loved this look during the January visioning session.

Surveyors have been "decorating" the campus with flags. They're making measurements to plot the topography of the site. This process is expected to take two weeks. Geotechnical engineers will be drilling near the front of the school on Monday to sample soils and assess the current foundation of the building. The historical consultant is continuing her work to assess the architectural historical significance of the building.

You can see photos and notes from Monday's meeting.

I presented at the Big Community Meeting on Mar 21. You can see my presentation here.

If you're interested in participating in the design of the new school, there is still time to commit to the team. We estimate that it will require about 8 hours per month through October (including the summer months). If that doesn't scare you and you want to help design the best school possible with the resources available, we'll see you on Thursday!

Please share the link to this page with others so that everyone can follow our progress.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Architects Hired! March 8 Update

The Design Committee recently scored the qualifications of three architectural firms. Two of those firms were interviewed by the board last night. EL Architects and DOWA-IBI made one-hour presentations each. Community members in attendance were asked for their opinions and input by the board. Following deliberation, DOWA-IBI was selected as the project architect. They have been working on ideas for the Design team to consider and presented over two dozen possible scenarios last night. The Design Committee will begin serious, on-going deliberations beginning in the next week or two. The preliminary schedule calls for schematic design to be completed by the end of April.

So much is happening behind the scenes this week. Our project manager, Doug Nichols, has been working to engage surveyors, geotechnical engineers, hazardous materials consultants and archeologists to do preliminary work on our site. We're digging into our archives to retrieve past reports that may save us some funds in this process. Surveyors are expected to be on site next week looking at topography and locating utilities. Archeologists are doing research to determine if an excavation is warranted. We're searching for any past studies that were done on the site to mitigate costs.

As I've said before, this is an aggressive schedule. We're moving quickly and working hard in order to receive our state matching (SCAP) funds in the 2019 fiscal year. If we miss the July disbursement, we'll need to wait until next July. Inflation on construction costs is about 6% per year. This is $1.5 million on a $25 million project. We'd like that $1.5 million to go to our school, not to inflated costs. Our budget will be very tight and we can't afford to lose any capacity.

If you would like to participate in the design of the new school and can commit approximately 8 hours per month to meetings through the end of October, 2019, please contact Dale Merten or me so that your name can be added to the group. This school will be built to last our community 50 years and design is a critical factor.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, I invite you to contact me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

February 26 Update

We've been working to engage an architectural firm since my last update. A request for qualifications was placed in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce and it ran for two weeks. On Feb 22, we had a pre-submission conference with interested firms to explain our project and help firms understand what we've heard from our community about the new high school. We talked about proposed schedules and asked that firms who were shortlisted for interviews be prepared to discuss their ideas for design and siting of the new school.

Statements of Qualifications (SOQs) were due today at 3 p.m. We received submissions from EL Architects, Dowa/IBI and KMB. The Design Committee will be scoring the SOQs this week. Firms selected to be interviewed will be notified on Monday.

The board rescheduled their March meeting to Thursday, March 7 in order to interview prospective firms and meet timelines. Each firm will be given an hour to present their qualifications and thinking about our project and answer questions. Members of the community who would like to be present are invited to attend this regular open meeting of the board on March 7 at 6 p.m. at TMS.

Once the board selects a firm, Doug Nichols and I will begin negotiations on the scope of the work and fees. I expect that this will proceed quickly.

Teator and Crocker Consulting has been working with our staff and administrators to create our Educational Specifications. They are drafting their report this week and should be able to deliver by the time an architect is engaged. Educational Specifications are the number of various rooms and spaces needed by a school in order to deliver programs and services. Questions such as how big should a classroom be and how many classrooms do we need and how can we use spaces in multiple ways and throughout the day, are all factored into this report. We've indicated that we want to be able to utilize spaces for a variety of purposes so that space doesn't sit idle. Educational specifications are the cornerstone of the project. Staying on budget and schedule means staying true to our Ed Specs. Ed Specs inform the next step in the process- Schematic Design.

Schematic Design is scheduled to begin in the second week of March and conclude in mid-April with our first cost estimate completed shortly thereafter followed by our first round of value engineering. Schematic design is the first draft of drawings for layout of the building and elevation views. Cost estimate is estimating the cost of the design. Value engineering is looking at whether the design is delivering the Ed Specs in the most cost-effective way. The completion of these steps will give us our first look at how tight our budget will be.

This project is on an aggressive timeline so that we can minimize the effect of 6% inflation annually and also receive SCAP funding in this year's funding cycle. If we miss this year's cycle, SCAP funds won't be available again until July, 2020. All of our partners at OSPI, Lewis County and the architects understand our timeline and have expressed their desire to help us hit our marks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

February 12 Update

Doug Nichols and I have begun working in earnest to get all of the pre-design work underway. We have posted RFQs for Architects, Geotechnical Engineers, Surveyors and others to examine sensitive lands issues (archeology, wetlands, hazardous materials, etc.) Doug's team will begin interviewing staff to develop the educational specifications for the building (how many rooms, what kinds of spaces are needed, equipment, storage, etc.) during the coming week.

Doug  has created a tentative schedule for the project that has all of this pre-design work complete prior to the end of March. Schematic design work is scheduled to commence in mid-March. This is like an "outline" design of the building- floor plans, elevations, and siting. When that is complete, the first costing of the project will take place. Costing is done by a firm that specializes in cost estimating. Following that will be value engineering- can we do this better for less? 

The big question I'm always asked is "when do we break ground?" This schedule has us breaking ground the first week in November. Construction would continue through Feb. 2021 with commissioning and State Agencies' approval by March, 2021.

Remember, this is a tentative schedule and these are aggressive marks to hit. These dates depend upon no unforeseen circumstances. If you've ever built anything, you know that there are always unforeseen circumstances.

A small group of community members toured schools north of us. Of particular interest was Hawk Elementary School in Bremerton. This school received the most positive response at the visioning meeting in January. Many people commented on the use of wood in the construction and a design that looks "Northwest". Ross Parker has  created a summary of the tours that will be shared with the Design Committee at their next meeting (TBA).

I attended training on the State Construction Assistance Program last week. This is the program that will provide an estimated $9.8 million toward our project. I understand a lot more about the process and why it is so important to have a construction management firm working with us. Nichols will take care of getting the necessary forms and documents together in a timely fashion so that cash flow isn't interrupted during the project. Given that our local funds are small compared to the size of the project and approximately $18 million of the $25 million total will be dependent upon reimbursement from the state, cash flow is likely to be an issue during the project.

Final thought: Bond proceeds can only be used to build a new high school. Nothing from the bond can be used to support operations or any other school. Today is election day and TSD has a levy proposal on the ballot. The proposal will mean a reduction in what you paid last year and a continuation of what you'll pay this year. It renews your support of our programs and people. I urge you to submit your ballot by 8 p.m. today.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Nichols Consulting Chosen as Construction Manager

Following an extensive process that included posting to local and Seattle newspapers and trade journals requesting statements of qualifications, screening by a committee of community members, reference checks and culminating with board interviews last night, the board has selected Doug and Suzanne Nichols of Nichols Consulting to serve as the Construction Managers for the high school project.

Doug brings a wealth of experience working with small districts on capital projects of all kinds. His team's fiscal background will also assist us in staying on budget in a volatile construction climate. I'll be working with him over the next few days to finalize a contract. He plans to begin work immediately. Doug has a fondness for working with small school districts. He spent quite a bit of time researching our project and our community prior to submitting his qualifications.

First steps will be to arrange for surveying, soil testing and sensitive lands (historical and archeological) issues. We'll also begin the process of looking for an Architect/Engineering firm. Doug will begin putting together a schedule for the project. He'll also be helping us engage a consultant to do the educational specifications for the project and cost estimating. There will be a frenzy of activity over the next few weeks and months as we work through the design process.

Our thanks to the teams from OAC and Construction Services Group for their interest in our project. While not selected to work with us, these teams are of high caliber and worked hard to partner with us. We're grateful for their efforts and wish them well in their future projects.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Tour Updates

A group of about a dozen Toledo community members toured Woodland HS, Hockinson MS and HS and Parkrose MS yesterday. Participants commented about how much natural light was present in all schools and how some schools did not take proper advantage of that light. The schools were all two story structures and participants noted that the configuration didn't isolate students or create divisions. Ordinary classrooms were noted to have about 900 sf while Science and Art classrooms had 1200 sf. Technology included rooms with multiple teaching stations, projectors or monitors on the wall as well as amplification for teachers to help students hear instruction better. Woodland noted that their card lock system was added after the design phase. They noted that this had been a problem for them.

In talking about the tour on Jan. 30, participants noted that they would like to visit Bud Hawk Elementary in Bremerton. Photos of this school received the most positive feedback during the Jan. 10 visioning meeting. Ross Parker called this morning to say that one of the schools we'd planned to visit isn't ready for visitors yet. He worked out a plan that would allow our group to leave a little later in the morning, arrive back to Toledo a little later in the evening and be able to make the trip to Bremerton to see this school. Itinerary for this trip is below. Given the interest in the photos of this school, I think it makes sense to make the change. If you'd like to participate, please notify Dale Merten at ToledoTel. A limited number of seats may be available.

In all, participants on yesterday's tour remarked that they'd seen things that they liked and things that we should not include in our designs. Both pieces of information are valuable to the process. We hope you'll be involved if you're able.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

January 22 Update

The community came together on January 10 to respond to photos of other recently-built schools in Washington. Members placed blue dots on photos that were attractive and red dots on photos that were not. In this way, we hoped to get some overarching sense of what the community would like in terms of interior and exterior features to the new building. You can see the results here. This is also where you'll find a copy of the video from that evening.

The board is currently working to schedule interviews with the Construction Management finalists. This will be done in an open  meeting with a decision to follow. The meeting date, time and place will be announced through ordinary channels.

I've been asked recently whether we're keeping the old gym and building a new one. No decision has been made on that. As with so many things in this project, the decision rests upon priorities and finances. I've been asked where the new school will be sited. There are a  number of possibilities and no decision has been made. One site is behind the existing shop in/near the Oak Grove and staff parking lot. Another site is in front of the current school. Another proposal has the new school sited at the extreme North end of the property. All of these sites (and any other options) will be considered based on how well they meet the interests of the community. 

Decisions made to date:
We're  building a new school somewhere on the existing 40-acre site. It will have a pitched roof. It will be paid for with a $7 million bond, $10 million grant and SCAP funds maximized according to State formula. If you'd like to be part of the team that makes a design recommendation to the board, contact Dale Merten.

Tour Details

Ideally each tour/visit would be 30-45 minutes max; the above includes flex time for bio-breaks/traffic. We recognize it’s a long day but I think the full range of things to see will both inform and inspire.  Please respond today as Dale is arranging a vehicle(s) for transport.  Also let him  know if you prefer to drive your own car.

Details for the South Tour January 23

08:00:  depart Toledo High School – 45 minute drive
09:00-10:00:  tour Woodland (confirmed) – 30-40 minute drive.
11:00-12:45:  tour Hockinson MS & Hockinson HS (confirmed - this is the only time slot available)
1:00-2:30:  Lunch, potential driving tour of another school or two, and/or a group discussion (I’m working on venues)
3:00-3:45:  tour Parkrose MS (confirmed - this is the earliest we can visit)
3:45-5:30:  return to ToledoSouth Tour on the 23rd:
08:00:  depart Toledo High School – 45 minute drive
09:00-10:00:  tour Woodland (confirmed) – 30-40 minute drive.
11:00-12:45:  tour Hockinson MS & Hockinson HS (confirmed - this is the only time slot available)
1:00-2:30:  Lunch, potential driving tour of another school or two, and/or a group discussion (I’m working on venues)
3:00-3:45:  tour Parkrose MS (confirmed - this is the earliest we can visit)
3:45-5:30:  return to Toledo

Details for the January 30 North Tour are still being finalized. If you're interested in attending, please let Dale know.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Progress the week of January 14

We've completed reference reviews of all three firms. At their regular meeting last night, the boad requested a special meeting to interview the manager from each firm who would be assigned to the project as well as any ancillary staff that the firm's wish to send. We're working to coordinate these interviews now and to schedule this meeting as soon as possible.

Dowa/IBI has assisted us in scheduling two tours of recently-completed schools. The first tour will take place on January 23 and will visit Woodland HS, Hockinson MS and HS and Parkrose MS. 15 members of the Design Committee will be on this all-day tour and will bring back their impressions to help guide the design process. On January 30, we'll repeat the process and visit schools to the north of Toledo. Ross Parker from Dowa/IBI is confirming the schools today and should have the final roster by next week. Each of these schools is comparable in scale to the new THS and some are award winners for design.

Dowa/IBI has forwarded images from the visioning meeting as well as a video of the event. You can find them here. This is my first attempt to upload a video and I'm hoping it works. If you have problems, please email me. I may upload to YouTube if this isn't working. The video is 2 hours long, so you'll want to pop some popcorn and settle in if you plan to watch the whole thing (I didn't)

Once a Construction Management (CM) is selected, meetings will begin in earnest to develop a Request for Qualifications for architects and to develop educational specifications and construction schedule.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Construction Management Progress this week

The Design Committee scored the Statements of Qualification and narrowed the field to three firms:

  • Nichols Consulting 
  • Construction Services Group

I've been working this week to contact references and to develop additional sources of data on these firms so that I can advise the board. The board is expected to set a special meeting to conduct interviews of the firms and to make a decision on who to represent the district's interests in managing the construction of the new school.

This is an important position. The firm selected will be responsible for managing all aspects of the project from pre-design through selection of the architect to bids, construction, close-out and commissioning. They will represent the district in all of these regards and it is their expertise that will bring the project in on budget and schedule.

While there is a desire to complete this project as soon as possible, it is more important to do it right rather than doing it quick. On the other hand, construction costs are escalating quickly. Three years ago, we could have gotten a lot more for our money than we can now and costs continue to rise. This balance of do it right vs. do it fast (and for less money) is what we're counting on our Construction Manager to do.

Community Visioning Meeting

Sixty community members, staff and students met on January 10 to envision a new Toledo High School. The purpose was to hear some of the ideas that have been surfacing in the community and generate some excitement for the project. The meeting was facilitated by the architectural firm Dowa/IBI ("DOW-uh eye-bee-eye") The team included Jason King, a 2007 graduate of Toledo High School who now works as a Civil Engineer in Boise.

Participants shared memories of the current school and important places and then looked at photographs of existing schools. They placed red dots on photos of things that they wouldn't like to be part of the new school and blue dots on photos of things that are attractive. The facilitators captured comments made during the visioning. In addition, participants recorded additional thoughts about the new school that were collected by the team. We're expecting a summary in a few weeks. When I receive it, I'll post it here. I'm adding the photos (without dots) as an attachment to this posting for your review. Visioning Displays

When the Visioning portion of the meeting was concluded, I presented information about a levy proposal that  will be on the February ballot. The current operations levy is expiring at the end of the year and a replacement is proposed to maintain the levels of programming and staffing that the community has come to expect from the schools. Levies pay for things that the State does not: athletics, extra curricular activities and travel, and Music to name a few. In addition, levy dollars support maintaining courses in CTE such as Wood and Metal Shop and Careers in Education. Finally, levy dollars supplement maintenance and repairs as well as low class sizes and additional instructional supports.

The current levy is $1.1 million and we've been paying for that since 2015. The proposed replacement for that levy is $895,000 for two years. This is a 67 cents/ $1000 DECREASE in tax rates for our community.

I've been asked why the district is asking for more money after just receiving $7 million. The answer is simple: the $7 million bond can only pay for a new high school. Not one penny can be diverted to operations. Nor can that money be used to repair or enhance any other school in the district.

The levy will continue the programs and services that are already offered and continue them. It is not a new tax. You can see a list of what the levy supports and a comparison of tax rates from 2017-2021 here Tax Rates

There was concern that our community might not be aware of the levy and that turnout would be too low to validate the election. We've learned today that no validation is required. The passage of the levy will be dependent upon the total votes cast only. No turnout threshold is required.

The Design Committee will begin looking at the visions of the community including drawings by students, emails to Dale Merten (Chair of the Design Committee) and input at future meetings to design the new school.