Archive for Thursday, April 14, 2005

School board to study idea of using construction manager

April 14, 2005

The Lansing School Board is considering hiring a Kansas City-based firm to manage construction of its $19 million elementary school and $4 million high school auditorium. But first, board members want to hear about alternatives to J.E. Dunn Construction.

The board on Monday heard a presentation on construction management services provided by J.E. Dunn, a major player in the construction industry in Kansas City and beyond. John Brake and David Disney were pushing for their firm to be hired to oversee construction on the projects approved in last week's school bond referendum.

They told board members Dunn had pioneered construction management of school projects in Kansas and was one of the biggest, most experienced firms involved in the practice.

Brake listed several benefits of hiring a construction manager rather than relying on a general contractor to oversee day-to-day operations on the construction site. Among them: Enabling a teamwork approach to construction, with the manager working specifically to bring in a quality project on time and on budget.

Board members seemed to like what they heard, but they weren't ready to settle on Dunn just yet.

Board member Brian Bode lamented that Brake didn't directly answer his question about Dunn's two biggest competitors.

"I was hoping he would just maybe spit a name out of the name of companies whose address was Lansing, Leavenworth, Pleasant Ridge or Easton," Bode said of Brake. "He didn't."

Brake didn't directly answer questions about Dunn's fees, either, instead noting they were based on variables including a project's size and complexity of schedule.

Board member Keith Rickard said the presentation didn't address any of the downsides of using a construction manager.

"We talked all about the advantages. : Are there any disadvantages or risks?" said Rickard, who nevertheless noted he was leaning toward hiring a construction manager for the projects.

Board members directed Supt. Randal Bagby to solicit information from other contractors that offer construction management services and to explore with other school superintendents the upsides and downsides of using a construction manager. Members asked Bagby to compile the information by the board's May 9 meeting.

Bagby doesn't have to go far to find construction management firms; several have been at work in area districts. Kansas City-based Universal Construc-tion, for example, is finishing work on a new $35 million high school in the Olathe school district, is the construction manager on $65 million in additions to that district's four junior high schools and has won the construction management contract for additions to Shawnee Mission South and Northwest high schools.

Archie Smith of Universal said Tuesday his firm would like to discuss a proposal for Lansing's projects.

"We would be interested in having the opportunity to at least put a package together," he said.

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