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.