Reporter Jackie Majerus wrote this story:
Having selected the architects for the two new K-8 schools, committee members for the schools planned for Forestville and the West End will next be hiring construction managers for the projects.
Steven DeVaux, the school district's business manager, said hiring a construction manager for each project "would be prudent."
It's like an "insurance policy," DeVaux said, for continuity and quality, because it means having someone who is paying close attention to the project. The construction manager would help organize, maintain and modify the budget, said DeVaux, create a timeline and coordinate what contractors are doing.
"I would recommend it," DeVaux said.
At a recent meeting, school building committee members agreed to send their recommendations for architects to city councilors for approval, and to have city Purchasing Agent Roger Rousseau solicit bids for a construction manager.
City councilors will consider architect selection at their meeting Tuesday.
The West Bristol committee selected the Windsor architectural firm of Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc. to design the new school on Matthews Street.
In Forestville, the committee picked Tai Soo Kim Partners, LLC of Hartford to design the new Pine Street school.
Rousseau said hiring a construction manager would be advantageous because the district would have someone looking at "the big picture."
The architect will monitor work, Rousseau said, but not closely. A clerk of the works would keep a daily record of the project, he said, but a construction manager would do much more.
"They give you better methods to address the construction," said Rousseau.
In the end, the city could save money, according to Rousseau, because a construction manager could help prevent a lot of costly change orders.
Peter Roberge, a member of the Forestville school building committee, said a construction manager would keep contractors on their toes.
"With a construction manager, you probably would save money," said Roberge. "They know what to look for."
A construction manager is paid either as a fixed fee or on an hourly basis, said Rousseau, and costs about 2 to 3 percent of the construction cost, which he said in this case would be between $750,000 and $1 million.
A clerk of the works would cost about $90,000, said DeVaux.
Mike Audette, principal of O'Connell School and the chairman of the West Bristol school building committee, said a construction manager would cost more than a clerk but end up saving even more.
DeVaux said one drawback with a clerk of the works is that the project relies on a single individual.
Rousseau said the city has hired a clerk of the works many times, sometimes with great success. Other times, he said, there were problems.
"He primarily becomes your eyes and ears, but he doesn't become your brain," said Rousseau. "I think it's beneficial to have a construction manager."
If the committee opts not to hire a construction manager, Rousseau said, it will be their job to keep track of the project.
DeVaux said if the school projects are ready to go, there is an "outside chance" that they could get federal funding under new governmental initiatives expected from President-elect Barack Obama.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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