Halifax County School Board members are aiming for construction of a new high school to start in June 2023 and have it finished by August 2025.

Halifax County School Board approved its contract with Grimm + Parker Architects for the Halifax County High School construction project when they met Monday evening.

The school board also unanimously approved a resolution adopting the construction management at risk process as their delivery method in hopes of starting construction in June 2023 and having the new school completed by August 2025.

Design work will commence this month concurrent with surveying, environmental services and geotechnical investigation.

“In order to achieve this opening date, we will need to move swiftly through design on an accelerated schedule,” James Boyd, senior vice president of Grimm + Parker wrote in a letter to the school board.

Their approved resolution says, “as construction market conditions remain volatile with long lead time on key building components and worker shortages presenting challenges to delivering the Project on-time and within budget, traditional competitive sealed bidding is not fiscally advantageous or practicable for the Project.”

They also approved the development and posting of a Request of Qualifications (RFG) for construction firms to collaborate with Skanska, the school board’s Construction Management Agency (CMA), and Grimm + Parker Architects.

The school board will be requesting statements of qualifications from firms to provide Construction Management at Risk services until 2 p.m. on May 19, which will then be reviewed by a committee.

“An RFQ provides us to prequalify the contractors who have the ability to do a large-scale job like this. You don’t want to have people who are not qualified bid and then you have to select the lowest bid. Pre-qualifications are a must,” interim director of secondary instruction Scott Worner told the board Monday.

School board members also plan to meet with Grimm + Parker Architects representatives on Thursday at 3 p.m. in the public meeting room of the Mary Bethune Office Complex in Halifax for them to present options as a “kickoff” to the preliminary designs of the high school.

“We have been working on this without a contract because time is truly of the essence… the quicker we get some reactions from you about the site and where things might occur on the site, it helps us immensely in taking a giant step forward,” said Boyd.

Halifax County Board of Supervisors has given the school board a budget of $110,250,000 for the new school.

According to the contract with Grimm + Parker, there is approximately $89 million to $92 million in the budget for building construction costs and approximately $4 to $5 million for site construction costs.

The full price for Grimm + Parker Architects services is 5.7% of the total project cost of $110,000,000, or $6,267,961. However should the school board request additional services, an adjustment must be made to the fees. 

Skanska’s services cost 2% of the total project cost of $110,000,000, or $2,240,000. 

Grimm + Parker Architects’ contract states, “If, after acceptance of or approval of the schematic design phase, the Owner wishes to significantly alter the design, either by altering the size of the building by 5% or more or changing the design in a way that requires redesign of the building, the Architect reserves the right to make a request for equitable compensation for the redesign costs.”

Grimm + Parker will provide “structural, mechanical and electrical engineering services,” and shall “research applicable design criteria, attend Project meetings, communicate with members of the Project team and report progress to the Owner,” as stated in its contract.

This contract is based on a delivery method of Construction Management at Risk with an early package for grading.

In Boyd’s letter to the school board, he explained that they felt Construction Management at Risk was the best option, “given the current bidding environment, complexities of building on an occupied site, supply chain issues and skilled labor shortages.”

Grimm + Parker believes using the Construction Management at Risk delivery method will “better define costs early in the process and provide direct pricing feedback from subcontractors while design and construction drawings are in process; allow for some early construction of sitework, thereby lengthening the total construction duration; and allow for early purchase of long lead items, such as switch gear, roofing, and mechanical equipment.”

The size of the new high school building is yet to be determined, however, it is anticipated to be up to 255,000 square feet, according to the RFQ.

Design development is expected to begin by late June or August, as stated in the RFQ, and 95% of construction documents are expected to be completed by September or December.

“Because time is of the essence, we’re going to have to shift some things around…we’re going to have to start the schematic design and as we figure whether we want to go in direction A, B or C we will then go back and engage the facility to talk more specifically about what happens in the art room, what happens in the science lab, what happens with physical education program to make sure we get these pieces right. In the meantime, we can talk about how this building is going to position itself on the site to make sure that the relationships are working,” said Boyd following a comment from ED-6 trustee Lacey Shotwell.

Shotwell then added, “We just need to make sure we have enough opportunity for the community to be involved.”

Worner also reminded the board that Grimm + Parker previously met with high school staff during the PPEA process to get an overview of their needs and desires.

“We have that piece of the stakeholder part,” he added.

Ashley Conner is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at aconner@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com