SUSD Governing Board selects contractor for services at Cherokee

Cherokee Elementary School (photo courtesy of SUSD)

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board selected Core Construction to provide pre-construction services for Cherokee Elementary School.

Core Construction will work with the district’s architect Orcutt Winslow through a construction manager at risk process to determine cost estimates for different scenarios, among other tasks.

The board made the 4-1 decision, with Governing Board Vice President Allyson Beckham dissenting, at its March 19 board meeting at Coronado High School, 7501 E. Virginia Ave.

The Governing Board selected Core Construction after the solicitation of a Jan. 31 request for qualifications bid.

As part of its voter-passed $229 million bond, Cherokee Elementary School will either go through a renovation or reconstruction process. Orcutt Winslow conducted several community meetings to aid in its plans for the school.

Orcutt Winslow will use Core Construction for a feasibility study to help determine which option will fit Cherokee best and the costs of the various options.

The feasibility study would be available ahead of the Governing Board’s April 11 meeting, where it will hear the recommendation regarding the school. The board will then vote at its April 16 regular meeting.

This contract also covers all other pre-construction services that would come after the Governing Board has made a decision on which direction to go with Cherokee.

Allyson Beckham (Photo by Arianna Grainey)

The cost for the services will be .7 percent of the final construction costs. This led Ms. Beckham to vote against the approval.

“I’m supportive of this but the only reason why I’m going to vote no is because I don’t feel it is in the best interest of the district to have a percentage based upon an unknown number,” she said.

“I think we could do what we did last time — which is take the percentage of the estimated cost, which I believe was $18 million, and then make it a fixed fee. That’s the only reason.”

Jeff Gadd, the districts interim chief financial officer, said he thinks it’s industry standard to use percentages in this case.

“Percentages are fairly typical, I think, because we are uncertain about the exact amount depending on what the feasibility study says,” Mr. Gadd said.

“It seemed like it was more appropriate to use a percentage than a dollar amount, which we would theoretically need to change based upon whatever number we would estimate the budget to be.”

Orcutt Winslow provided an update on the school’s progress at the board’s March 7 special meeting. There, the architect provided updates on how it was working with the community through meetings as well as tentative timeline for the project.

During that meeting, Ms. Beckham expressed concerns about not having an idea yet as to whether renovation or a rebuild would be more appropriate.

Tom O’Neil, client leader and architect of record, said he believed having a contractor would help provide a more accurate cost projection for the project.

“We want that number to come in strong,” he said at the March 7 meeting. “It may not be the only metric that we’re going to measure it by, but it has to be pretty darn accurate.”

Orcutt Winslow is still in the community input process as it has a meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 25 in the cafeteria at Cherokee, 8801 N. 56th St. in Paradise Valley. The fifth meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 29 in Cherokee’s cafeteria.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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