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.