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Letter from Board President Regarding EHS Construction Costs



TO:       Enumclaw School District Community
FROM :Tina McGann, Board President
DATE:  January 22, 2016

On behalf of the Enumclaw School District Board of Directors, I want to provide information related to the Enumclaw High School bond project. We recently learned that the cost projections used to support our April 2015 Capital Bond proposal incorrectly projected expected state funding assistance dollars and underestimated construction costs for the High School Modernization and Addition. The end result is that the Board expects that Bond dollars will only cover the classroom additions and core building renovation for the High School Project. The Black Diamond Elementary School Project is not affected by this issue. We share the community’s disappointment over this matter and want to provide our understanding of the deficiencies with the cost projections. We are continuing to inquire regarding this matter and will share confirmed information as it becomes available.

  • The District hired BLRB Architects, using grant funding from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to perform a Study and Survey of District facilities and provide the Board with Pre-Bond Planning Services. BLRB has significant experience in assisting school districts in bond planning and school construction projects.
  • BLRB agreed to prepare and present to the Board, for its consideration, a recommended bond issue scope, concept design, and cost for the proposed bond projects. BLRB represented to the District that it would work with a cost estimating consultant to provide cost models, including construction cost estimates, projected development costs, and estimated state assistance dollars, for the proposed bond projects.
  • At the October 6, 2014, Board meeting, BLRB presented to the Board an itemized breakdown of the construction costs, project development costs, and expected state funding assistance for the Black Diamond Elementary School Replacement and Enumclaw High School Modernization and Addition. The Board relied on the BLRB recommendations and cost estimates in setting the scope of the bonds and approving the resolution to place the $68.5 million bond measure for the projects on the April 2015 ballot.
  • On November 6, 2014, the District interviewed several architectural firms, including BLRB, for the purpose of selecting a firm to design the bond projects. Following these interviews, the District hired NAC Architects.
  • In late July 2015, the District learned that BLRB incorrectly calculated the eligible square footage for purposes of determining the state assistance dollars for the Bond projects. BLRB calculated that the District would receive a total of $18.1 million in state assistance dollars. However, as calculated by OSPI, the estimated state assistance computed to $10.6 million. The District learned after the fact that BLRB did not verify its estimate with OSPI. The District subsequently requested that OSPI consider supplemental enrollment information and worked over a period of several months with OSPI to secure additional state assistance. As a result of these efforts, OSPI confirmed an additional $2.1 million in state assistance at the end of November 2015. This still leaves a gap of approximately $5.4 million in state assistance. The District provided BLRB with notice of the funding shortfall resulting from the BLRB calculation and a request for compensation for the error. At the same time, the District focused on managing the gap in funding with a belief that it could still complete the full scope of the High School project.
  • In December 2015, the NAC design of the High School project was submitted to a value engineering committee, comprised of professionals from a variety of project disciplines including civil, mechanical, electrical and structural engineers, cost estimators, architects, and a general contractor. That committee provided input to the District regarding modifications and changes that could be made to the design in order to save costs.
  • At the end of December 2015, the District’s project manager (Alliance Management) and NAC, after working with an independent cost estimator, informed the District that the BLRB project costs for the High School Project were insufficient to cover all components of the project as set forth in the BLRB project scope presented to the voters. The cost projections provided by BLRB in October 2014 to support the bond proposal are approximately 30% below current estimates for the construction cost (calculated to the time that the project will be bid in spring of 2017). Other school districts have recently experienced this same issue: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/education/article49458060.html
  • The gap between the current High School project cost estimate and the BLRB makes it likely that the District will not be able to construct the new gymnasium and new performing arts center. The Board was provided with this information at the first opportunity at the January 4, 2016, Board meeting. Over the last three Board meetings, the Board has considered various alternatives to the project design. At this time, the Board is directing that the gymnasium and performing arts center be bid alternatives in order to determine the costs of construction at the time of bid. The current budget estimate covers the remainder of the High School project (classroom additions and core renovation).
  • If the gymnasium and performing arts center are unable to be built within the project budget, the District will consider future funding proposals to address these community priorities.
  • The District has implemented an extensive communication plan designed to provide ongoing and updated information to the Board, District staff, PTA members, and the public at large. This communication will continue as we learn more. Information can be located on the District’s website.