Liberty, Maywood projects could be first in line to be completed with bond dollars

May 18, 2012

By Staff

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NEW — 1:20 p.m. May 18, 2012

The Issaquah School District is wasting no time when it comes to putting its recently-approved $219 million bond dollars into action.

The school board reviewed a preliminary schedule of projects and timeline for school construction and other district upgrades at its May 9 meeting. Some projects could begin as soon as July and others extend through the end of 2019.

“Somebody has to be first, and somebody has to be last,” said Jacob Kuper, chief operations officer for the district.

Phase 2 construction of Liberty High School and Phase 2 at Maywood Middle School are first in line with finishes projected by the end of 2013. At the caboose of the tentative timeline is the reconstruction of Sunny Hills Elementary School, which wouldn’t finish until December 2018.

Construction to improve Skyline High School’s stadium would begin April 2013 and run through September 2014. As a result, Skyline’s football team is likely to play away games for the entire 2013 season. Issaquah High School will have the same problem a few years later when its stadium remodel takes place from April 2016 to August 2017.

This summer, the district hopes to install artificial turf on the athletic fields at Beaver Lake and Maywood middle schools. It would then install turf fields at Pine Lake and Pacific Cascade middle schools the following summer.

“We didn’t want to take all the fields out over the course of the summer because it would be a huge impact on the community,” said Steve Crawford, director of capital projects for the district.

The tentative schedule only listed major projects, with repairs and other smaller projects bundled together to be done over the next seven years and possibly beyond.

“This is a draft schedule, subject to change,” said Kuper. “When you are talking about 80 percent of a decade, there are going to be changes.”

He and Crawford explained that there are a number of factors that influence the timeline, like permitting with different jurisdictions and whether or not construction is located in rural or urban areas.

A different contracting method

Crawford and Kuper also suggested using an alternative contracting method for the more complex project of relocating Issaquah Middle School, Clark Elementary School and Tiger Mountain High School. The method, General Contractor Construction Management, would replace the traditional bidding process.

Instead, the district would bring in a general contractor early on in the design phase to be a part of the multi-phase project throughout. By doing so, Crawford said the district would get the contractor’s expertise on things like materials and efficiencies. He said the district would negotiate costs with the contractor.

“I think there is the potential to save some money…we will know earlier in the process where the big costs are,” said Crawford.

Another area where it could save money, he said, is by potentially reducing delays. The threat of delays would be stronger, he explained, if three separate contractor bids are accepted for three different phases.

In this case, one general contractor would be responsible for the whole project. Ideally, each phase, including the relocation of three different student bodies, would be better synchronized if one firm is managing the entire process.

“The advantage is to shorten the timeline,” said Crawford.

The district’s preliminary timeline includes two possible schedules for the Issaquah, Clark and Tiger Mountain project. The first, using the traditional bidding method, estimates that the project would begin this month with its design and permitting phase and continue through the beginning of 2017. The target move-in date for students would be August 2016.

The second schedule, using one general contractor, would also start this month with early designs and permitting. Construction would finish at the beginning of 2016 with students set to be in their new facilities by August 2015.

District officials have not made a final decision yet and Kuper said that at this point and time, both avenues – going the traditional bidding route or using its alternative – are still open.

While Washington school districts are allowed to pursue the latter option, this would be the first time that the Issaquah School District does so.

First, however, the district must get approval from the state. Washington’s Capital Projects Advisory Review Board is expected to review the district’s projects’ proposals later this month or in June.

No-bid contracts would still be competitive

Should Issaquah School District officials decide to use the general contractor construction method, they must still abide by state requirements for how the general contractor is picked. Under state law, the contractor must be hired through a competitive process that involves the district publicly posting that it is looking for proposals.

The call for proposals has to include details such as a description of the project, reasons for using this method in the first place and a description of how proposals will be scored. The state also has guidelines for how the proposals are evaluated, including requiring a committee to do the evaluating. The applicants would be judged on their reputation, workload and the amount of work their firm could do itself. Finalists would need to submit a more detailed proposal, which would include an estimated maximum cost.

To make the final choice, those proposals would then have to be opened and read publicly. The public would also then get the chance to see how the finalists were scored.

Learn more about guidelines for capital projects at

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