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After the referendum: What next?

SPRING VALLEY – After approving the results of the April 9 election, which saw the $32 million referendum question pass by three votes, the Hall High School board got down to making that vote a reality.

Once again the architects from Healy, Bender of Naperville were present on Tuesday to address the board.

David Patton began by congratulating the board on a successful referendum. He said of the 54 school referendums on local ballots across Illinois, only 17 passed. And of the 12 building questions on the ballot, Hall was one of only two that voters approved.

“Congratulations on being in an elite crowd as far as passing referendums,” he said.

Patton then led the board through the difference between having a general contractor for the new building as opposed to a construction manager.

Patton called the general contractor option the “tried and true” way of constructing a building. He said the lowest responsible bidder would be awarded the position.

“You’re not really sure of his ability to do it,” Patton said.

The board would have one contract with the general contractor, who would have his own contracts with the subcontractors. Patton said the board would contract with the general contractor for a single price, and if he could find any ways to save money, it would be his to keep.

Cliff Bender, also of Healy, Bender, said this can create an unpleasant situation among the subcontractors.

Patton said his firm preferred working with a construction manager, which can be hired either as an advisor or as the constructor.

In the advisor position, the construction manager would work for a set fee to organize the trade contractors, and the board would have contracts with them individually. Any savings would be returned to the school.

In the constructor role, Patton said the construction manager would be similar to the general contractor, but he would be hired for a set fee by the board. One advantage of this arrangement is that all the bids would be available to be seen by the board, and the construction manager could create the contracts in a way that would give a preference to local contractors.

Patton said he was recommending the construction manager because of the complexities of constructing the building right next to a school that would remain open during the construction.

“If we were building this in a cornfield away from town, the general contractor would be OK,” he said. “We recommend you hire a professional to deal with the complexities.”

Patton also had a specific construction manager he would like to work with. John Huenink and Tom Roepke of Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, headquartered in Minneapolis, also gave a presentation to the board.

“We’re a dedicated partner, here to be part of the team,” Roepke said.

Board member Mike Morris asked if one of the options cost more than the others. Patton said the budget already includes the cost of the general contractor, and Kraus-Anderson reviewed the numbers and came up with the same total, which would include the construction manager fee instead.

Patton said the general contractor would probably be a little less expensive, but it would also be a little more of a risk.

“I’d like to think we do a good job of paying for ourselves along the way,” Roepke said.

Board member Marty Herrmann asked if there was any way to guarantee some work would go to local contractors.

Huenink said there was no 100 percent guarantee.

“But we have the opportunity to hand-select qualified bidders,” he said.

The board will consider whether to hire a construction manager at its May 22 meeting.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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