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.