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.