By Stephen Floyd
The Mount Angel School District (MASD) is taking an exceptional approach to bond-funded facility improvements that prioritizes total costs over specific projects.
In December, the MASD Board voted to use a “progressive design build” strategy for $8.2 million in bond projects, which involves a designer and contractor collaborating on project plans.
This differs from the “hard bid” system of a designer creating a detailed scope of work and contractors bidding on the project.
During a special meeting of the board Dec. 27, 2023, Bob Collins with design consultants Otak said progressive design build gives the district “strong confidence” in project estimates.
The district advertised for a design/construction team Jan. 24 and the board expects to award a contract during its regular meeting Feb. 8.
District voters overwhelmingly approved a $7 million facilities bond last year which was matched with a $4 million state grant, bringing available funds for improvements to $11 million.
Around $2.8 million in projects are going through the conventional bid process including the replacement of boilers at Mount Angel Middle School. The district was expected to award a contract Jan. 26, after Our Town press deadline.
Collins said Dec. 27 this hard bid process is more appropriate when a client knows exactly what they want out of a project. Because remaining bond projects were less defined – such as security and utility upgrades at all three schools – Collins said progressive design build would be a viable strategy.
He said, as designs were being developed, they could be checked against current marketplace conditions and the scope could be adjusted. He said this allows the district more control over costs than when a bid has been awarded and problems in the field require a change order.
Collins said, while a designer and contractor would be the primary collaborators, the district would provide its own input and would have final say on the finished scope. Board Chair Andrea Pfau said this was good because the district had made guarantees about specific work and wants to honor those commitments to the community.
Collins said the process includes a guaranteed maximum price that is added to the contract when final designs are approved. He said this means, even if overruns are encountered during construction, the contractor would be obligated to keep the project in the black.