With school replacements making up the lion’s share of the budget for our bond projects ($92.9 million of the $158 million total), it’s no surprise that the majority of the work done so far has been focused on building new elementary schools. Projects of this scale require a robust team with varying strengths and areas of expertise.
Enter our school construction team, made up of 12 professionals from four organizations: Kelso School District, Construction Services Group (CSG) from ESD 112, Integrus Architecture, and FORMA Construction Company. Experts from each organization have been working diligently on improving our facilities, some for over two years now.
“We really began working with CSG to determine the state of our facilities and see where the greatest needs were in January 2017,” said Scott Westlund, Chief Financial Officer for the district. CSG members have been instrumental in managing the many moving parts of our bond projects, including helping to find architects and contractors.
Integrus was interviewed and selected through a competitive process as the architectural firm to design the new schools. They facilitated stakeholder committee meetings for months to determine the educational specifications needed for our schools and get input on design elements.
Then, through a highly competitive process, FORMA was selected as our General Contractor/Construction Manager (GCCM) to build the schools. Bringing them in for industry expertise just before final design schematics were drawn helps to minimize change orders down the road and get sub-contractors secured early, both of which assist in keeping construction costs down.
Even then, unanticipated conditions caused a cost overrun of roughly $14 million for the school replacement projects. The schematic design estimating process revealed the unprecedented rise of labor and materials costs, and geotechnical engineering results at both the Wallace and Lexington sites indicated soil and ground conditions that require deep, robust soil improvements to ensure the foundation systems meet today’s building standards for public spaces.
The team came together and vetted multiple options to bring the total cost back within budget. After several open houses and a public hearing to gather community input, the school board approved a solution – combining two of the three new elementary schools into one larger school at the Lexington site in order to meet all the priorities of our bond measure.
“Even with a few cost challenges, it’s been an exciting adventure. We will continue to make the learning environment for Kelso students engaging, state-of-the-art, and safe,” said Superintendent Mary Beth Tack. “With our talented and dedicated team, we’re looking forward to great things for the Kelso students, staff, and community.”
Executive Construction Steering Team Members
Kelso School District Members
Mary Beth Tack, Superintendent
Scott Westlund, Chief Financial Officer
Gary Schimmel, Facilities Director
Leah Moore, Kelso School Board
Philip Iverson, Project Manager
Richard Skreen, Project Manager
Amy Vanderhorst, Senior Project Manager
Matt Taylor, Project Manager
Mike Rogers, Senior Project Manager
Kody Helms, Project Manager