Pearland ISD began preliminary engineering design work at Dawson High School, Pearland Junior High West and Sablatura Middle School in Pearland ISD as the district moves on projects that are part of the $220 million bond referendum that voters approved in November.
The first step the district took was to hire a director of bond program construction, which the board of trustees did at the district’s January meeting. John Posch started in the role Jan. 23.
“[John] is 100 percent bond,” Director of Facilities and Planning Don Tillis said. “He is the lead guy that will manage the dollars, the schedules, the architect contracts and the general contractors we’re bringing on board.”
The overall bond is divided into six packages with each assigned architects and timelines spanning the next four years.
“Our next step is to flesh out the management and operations of these projects,” PISD Superintendent John Kelly said. “[We are looking] at how much of this we should do internally versus how much we should rely on a firm.”
According to Kelly, once the general contractors are selected, the district, architects and contractors are able to develop more detailed designs, which include maximum price points.
“[The general contractors] sit down with the architects, and they are involved with the design phase,” Kelly said. “That way, sometimes savings can be identified. When the architect’s documents are complete, the construction manager at risk gives us a guaranteed maximum price.”
While the schematic designs—which focus on big picture plans for each of the projects—are underway, the district has now begun looking for general contractors who will assist in design development, according to Tillis.
The PISD board of trustees has also initiated a search for around 15 members of the community to act as a bond oversight committee, which Kelly has said will ensure the district is spending dollars as promised prior to the bond election.
“The board president asked each board member to nominate folks, and there have been a few others come forward and ask to serve on it,” Kelly said. “No later than February or March, the board will formally appoint the bond oversight committee.”
Although the district has not sold any of the new bonded debt yet, bond advisors are optimistic that market conditions are strong, and a large sale could go through as early as August.
“The good news is that if their current predictions hold true, we’re going to be able to sell more of the bonds up front,” Kelly said. “That can produce long-term savings in terms of tax rate and interest rate.”