05/17/14 — Schools hiring manager for projects

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Schools hiring manager for projects

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 17, 2014 10:37 PM

The Wayne County Board of Education Facilities Committee Tuesday is expected to discuss responses to the board's request for qualifications for a "construction manager at risk" to oversee the construction of two new schools.

The school board is currently advertising for submissions from construction managers for the nearly $38 million Grantham and Spring Creek middle schools project.

The deadline for companies to submit their statement of qualifications is Monday at 2 p.m.

The Tuesday meeting will start at 8 a.m. at the schools' administrative offices on Royall Avenue.

State law defines a construction manager at risk as a "person, corporation, or entity that provides construction management at-risk services."

It defines those services as ones provided by "a person, corporation, or entity for a project throughout the pre-construction and construction phases, who is licensed as a general contractor, and who guarantees the cost of the project."

The law requires that the construction manager at risk provide a performance and payment bond.

The committee will review the responses and submit a recommendation to the full board. As of press time Friday morning, no announcement had been made as to whether the school board would hold a special session for that.

The board's next scheduled meeting is not until June 2.

Both Wayne County commissioners and the school board are working to complete all of the necessary paperwork in time to present it to the Local Government Commission when it meets in early July.

Financing for the projects requires Local Government Commission approval before the county can proceed.

The commission already has rejected one proposal from the county.

The school board originally wanted to use an operating lease option with developer and architect Robbie Ferris, president and CEO of SfL+a. But the commission said that what was being considered was a capital lease, not an operating one, and did not approve the proposal.

The need for a construction manager at risk was necessitated by a compromise between the school board and commissioners on the financing and construction method to be used for the project.

After the Local Government Commission's first ruling, the school board lobbied to use the capital lease method.

However, the lease would have required approval by county commissioners, who said they would not give such approval. Commissioners also insisted on using the design/bid/build method.

Both boards have since approved a compromise that will allow the school board to retain Ferris, but use design/bid/build instead of the capital lease method.

Under the agreement, the school board agreed to use $2.2 million annually from lottery and sales tax revenues to repay the financing. Any amount over that would be covered by the county.

The school board also would pay the operating expenses for the two new schools out of its existing budget.

In order for the school board to proceed, it first had to be designated as the agent for the board of commissioners.

Commissioners last week approved a resolution granting that designation that allows the school board to bid out and to construct the two schools so that the county is eligible for a sales tax refund estimated at $1.2 million.

Unlike county government, the school system is not eligible to be reimbursed for the sales tax associated with the projects.

As a way to get around that limitation, the school board will deed the two school properties to the county. It is a tactic the two boards have often used.

After the new schools are constructed and occupied by the school board for the warranty period, the county would convey them back to the school board at a cost of $1, unless that would endanger the financing.

However, the Board of Education would exercise control of the two new school buildings while the debt service is being repaid.