Members of the joint facilities committee, which is comprised of members of the Halifax County School Board and Halifax County Board of Supervisors, plan to meet Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Mary Bethune Office Complex public meeting room in Halifax to discuss options for the Halifax County High School project.
This meeting comes two weeks after school board members voted in favor of building a new high school rather than renovating. They did not however come to a consensus about which method of construction delivery to use moving forward such as Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act, design-bid-build, design-build or construction manager at risk.
The committee plans to discuss those methods as well as next steps in this process.
Building a new high school would cost approximately $172,700,000 over 30 years with interest.
Even though the school board has decided they would like a new school instead of a renovated building, supervisors have not.
Supervisors Jeff Francisco and Garland Ricketts, who lead the finance committee, have been vocal about their desire to receive more options for the high school project and their openness to renovating the high school rather than build new. Francisco has said multiple times that he would still like to see a “true renovation number” rather than a figure representing tearing down most of the current building and rebuilding before making a decision, and he would like to see the cost of a high school below $100 million.
School board chairman Kathy Fraley and ED-4 trustee Jay Camp also have been opposition of supporting building a new school, along with ED-7 trustee Keith McDowell, who absent from the meeting in which they voted for a new school.
Some school board members feel that going the route of design-bid-build could bring the price tag for a new high school down.
However, in an August school board work session, Branch Builds and RRMM representatives spoke on the benefits of going the route of PPEA.
They also discussed four options for construction delivery including design-bid-build, PPEA, design-build and construction manager at rick.
A representative with Branch Builds explained that with design-bid-build the owner of the project typically goes with the lowest bid, and there are typically two contracts, one between the owner and architect and another with the owner and contractor.
Whereas with PPEA and design-build, they said there is usually only one joint contract between the owner and architect along with the contractor. With those options, they said qualifications, reputation, product and best value are considered rather than just lowest bid.
With using design-bid-build, they also noted the school system could face change orders, but with PPEA, design-build and construction manager at risk, the school board could identify the total cost early on.
Branch Builds, along with RRMM Architects, LPA Consulting Engineers and Timmons Group submitted an unsolicited PPEA on March 30 after the school board entered into a pre-construction service contract with the company. Also in 2019, Grimm + Parker Architects with English Construction and Moseley Architects submitted proposals.
Those with Branch Builds also warned the school board in August that if they did not move forward with PPEA, design-build or construction manager-at-risk, they would essentially be “starting over.”