Construction Manager chosen for new high school

Published 5:18 pm Friday, December 22, 2023

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JACKSON – Northampton County’s School Board continues to make decisions that will aid in the upcoming construction of the new high school.

At the Board of Education’s meeting on Dec. 11, they approved a recommendation for a “Construction Manager at Risk” and also endorsed a plan to apply for more state funding next month.

As previously reported by the News Herald, in October, the board chose the “Construction Manager at Risk” method for the school construction project instead of the more traditional “design-bid-build” model. With this method, the construction manager is selected before the bidding process begins.

Phil Matthews, who serves as Special Assistant to the Superintendent, explained at the December meeting that they had sent out Requests for Qualifications to 11 qualified companies. Two companies filled out the necessary paperwork and were interviewed earlier this month.

After that interview, the committee’s unanimous recommendation was to hire Bordeaux Construction Company.

“They have worked in this area,” Matthews added, noting that they constructed the county jail some years ago.

Board member Tony Burnette asked Matthews to explain more about what a Construction Manager at Risk does.

“To begin with, they’re going to assist our architect in projecting numbers in the pre-construction phase,” Matthews said. “When it comes time to bid, they’re going to assist in the bidding process and let the bids. And they’re basically going to be the contractor to deliver the product.”

Board Attorney Rod Malone noted that the Construction Manager is able to start looking for possible contractors before the project is bid out, and that they can make cost-saving design changes alongside the architects to keep the project within budget.

“It’s a great process and works really well,” Malone said.

Burnette said he wanted to make sure that the company will look at local and minority-owned businesses to work during the school’s construction. Matthews assured him that that would be the case.

Board member Clinton Williams motioned to approve the recommendation for Bordeaux Construction Company, and Barbara Stephenson seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.

During the meeting, the board also gave their permission for the district to apply for more funds from the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund (NBPSCF) when applications open next month.

Previously, the district was awarded a $50 million grant from NBPSCF for the new high school.

“During the 2023 General Assembly session, legislation was passed that would allow Northampton County the opportunity to apply for an additional $12 million for the construction of the high school,” explained Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins.

That funding is available to districts whose construction projects have not yet broken ground. Allocations for NBPSCF do not require a local match.

If the additional state funding is approved, Atkins said they would also be able to include more Career and Technical Education space on the school’s campus.

Like the other vote, this one also passed unanimously in favor with a motion of approval by board member Rhonda Taylor and a second from Dr. Marjorie Edwards.

In November, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners also authorized the district to apply for the supplemental funding.

The new high school will be located on a 63-acre parcel of land on Highway 305 just outside of Jackson’s town limits. If the school project remains on schedule, construction is expected to begin in December 2024 and conclude June 2026.