Director of Client Relations Lara Vincent shares tips for school districts who have passed a bond or are planning to release one in 2024
November marks an important time for k-12 school districts across the state as their proposed bonds head to the ballots. Passing a bond sets the strategy for each district over the next several years as they determine what improvements, renovations, and maintenance items they have budget for. The right general contractor can provide guidance and ensure that schools are ready to hit the ground running and make the most of their available budget. Whether your district’s bond has just passed this November or you are a district looking to pass a bond in 2024, the following strategies can help you plan for your program and create value for your community.
1) Determine an Approach
Once your bond has passed or as you are preparing for a bond, it is key to determine the approach to your contracts — Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC), design build, or hard bid. For a bond program, I usually recommend a CM/GC approach because it brings the selected general contractor on early, allowing their construction team to provide the most value to the district. We will be able to provide price checks, constructability reviews, and engage subcontractors early.
This is also a good time to determine how you will package the bond. Will there be one contract encompassing all planned k-12 construction projects? Or will prioritized projects be issued as many smaller contracts? Depending on the school district and the nature of the planned projects, both approaches can provide value. More rural school districts can benefit from releasing one contract to create economic mobilization and attract high-quality subcontractors. Splitting large bonds can also benefit districts by creating smaller more manageable contracts and spreading opportunity among a variety of teams, which can minimize your risk.
2) Organize Your Team
As you’re thinking through the structure and package of your bond, engaging your team early will help maximize construction budgets and lock in quality subcontractors. Once a bond is passed, the faster the k-12 construction process begins, the more value the district will get for their budget. For districts that just passed a bond, bringing on a construction company as soon as possible can help ensure you are on track with your expected scope and budget. During the year leading up to a bond, a general contractor can work with a district to start preliminary pre-construction work for the bond package. This gives the district an idea of what projects will cost and sets them up to begin construction the day the bond is passed. Starting early can reduce construction inflation costs because in this economy, time is money. Initiating buy-out earlier can mitigate the risk of inflation that negatively impacts a project in the several months it takes to plan, bid, and start the work.
3) Utilize Your General Contractor
Whether you’ve passed or are preparing for a bond, a general contractor will serve as your partner and help you get the most scope with the budget you have set for each k-12 construction project. Crucially, we can assist in early pricing and design constructability reviews. This will ensure that the scope fits the budget and reduce value engineering later. Accuracy is key here, so the entire team knows the project is feasible before utilizing any more resources. In preparing to pass a bond, a general contractor can provide advice on a range of items, from estimated start dates to pricing projections. We help to create a collaborative process between all team members and ensure your priorities are met. For bond packages with multiple projects, we can create a master budget to track each school project’s anticipated cost so the team can focus their bond budget exactly where it will have the most impact.
Passing a bond is an amazing opportunity for a community to prioritize its current and future students. The district’s time and taxpayer dollars should always be stewarded with this in mind. Haselden is ready to assist your district on any planning, pricing, or other services to help you make the most of your bond or prepare for next year. With over 1.4 billion dollars of k-12 construction completed to date, the Haselden Construction team has the experience to be your partner throughout the process.
If you have any questions or would like to speak about this information further, please don’t hesitate to reach out!