The Sherman Independent School District Board of Trustees recently approved criteria for the selection of construction services for the district’s new high school. These actions were taken in preparation for SISD to seek qualifications for a construction manager. The qualifications will be reviewed by a committee to determine a short list for interviews.

Local voters approved a $176 million bond package on Nov. 7 that includes district-wide technology upgrades, a new Sherman High School on a new site and upgrades to the HVAC and energy management system at the current Sherman High School.

The SISD board approved construction manager at risk as the procurement method for construction services regarding bond projects during its November meeting. The committee will rank proposals in accordance with the board approved selection criteria and the rankings will be presented to the board for approval at a future meeting.

SISD Assistant Superintendent Tyson Bennett said delegating authority is the first step in moving the process forward. In addition to approving the criteria for construction services, the board voted to delegate authority to Superintendent David Hicks to review the requests for qualifications.

“The superintendent will facilitate the process,” Bennett said. “It will be very similar to the RFQ that we did for the architect over a year ago. This is a two step process and the second step is to consider pricing. The pricing part of it should not be weighted very heavily in the beginning because you’re going to negotiate the guaranteed maximum price. At that point, if you don’t agree, you can still back out and go back to the next person on your list.”

The selection process is not simply fee based, but weighted heavily on other important issues critical to the success of the project. Other issues considered will include past relationships, performance as a team player, experience, construction of similar education projects and ability to perform work in a timely manner.

“The focus here with qualifications is experience, reputation, the teams you are working with and the warranty of work,” Bennett said. “Twenty percent of that is still pricing, which is more related to their percentage of work than necessarily overall price of how much it would cost.”

The U.S. Department of Labor wage rates, known as the Davis Bacon rates, were approved as the prevailing wage rates for the project. These rates assure a minimum wage to be paid to workers involved in construction.

The educational program that will help guide educational specifications for the project was also approved at the meeting. Bennett explained the program is a culmination of the district and capital improvement plans and the goals that have already set.

“We want our educational program to be seen in our facilities,” Bennett said. “The educational specifications will help decide the way in which classrooms are designed and constructed. If you are for cooperative learning and flexible learning spaces then you should see that in the classroom. You should see the ability to flex your learning space and the ability to move.”

The Educational Program underwent major revisions in 2015 and 2016 with the Strategic Planning Committee. In September of 2016, the Building Bearcats Committee extended the educational program and applied it to facilities.

However, Bennett said challenges during the process are inevitable.

“You’re going to have challenges throughout the process because it is all very challenging work,” Bennett said. “To make sure that you are constructing your educational program to meet the needs of your kids is important. There’s so many things we said we are going to do. So now have to bring in design teams.”

Another challenge Bennett noted was the need to stay on schedule.

“It’s all about what’s best for our kids,” Bennett said. “We want what’s best for our community within the specifications of what we laid out. We are trying to move along as quickly as we possibly can but we want to make sure we maintain a quality process and get all of the input we can to make sure we can build the best facility possible that meets all of our needs. We also want to move along through the process because we know the more kids that can experience the high school, the better.”

The district is aiming for an opening date of either August 2020 or August 2021. Bennett explained the date is dependent on the construction process and how it is affected by weather and other factors.