Considering a K-12 Facilities Referendum? Top 8 Reasons You Should Hire a CM Firm.

By Michael Ginalski

School districts in New York State are passing successful referendum packages at a rapid rate. With these project votes, communities are sending a message to districts that they trust them to be good stewards of their tax dollars while also trusting that they will maintain quality school facilities for their children. With this trust comes great responsibility. Districts must do everything possible in turn to stretch dollars and build what was presented to the public to continue to gain support for future referendums. Hiring a construction management (CM) firm is crucially important regardless of the size of the project. At Welliver, we got our start building schools and we have a storied history of doing it well. A school construction project has many moving parts regardless of how large or small it is and from experience, we know we make a difference for the districts and communities we serve. Our firm provides a full service, team oriented approach to districts.

Here are eight reasons why districts should hire a CM:

Allows School Administrators to focus on the core mission of educating children.

With a CM to lead the project, once a shovel hits the ground you won’t have to take time away from day-to-day responsibilities due to construction issues. At Welliver, we are the school district’s agent in the field managing all that comes with school construction. We work for the district – not the contractor or the architect.

Utilize contractors’ experience with schedule, constructability, and cost during design.

In traditional design-bid-build construction the contractor is handed plans to build as drawn. That approach has drawbacks as it limits opportunities to have contractors input from the start. Having a CM ensures that the opportunity exists as the builder is able to make recommendations about various aspects of the project to ensure project and budget goals can be met.

Allows districts to select project team based on qualifications.

This element is vitally important. Hiring the right people ensures a district is not gambling their community’s goodwill and limited resources. In school construction, the traditional approach of selecting the low bid from a general contractor comes with no promises that the low bidder will be the best builder. A CM allows districts to remove that risk and select project leadership based on qualifications. It also means gaining the builder’s pre-construction perspective on design, cost, and schedule.

Having a CM on board from pre-referendum to completion provides districts the best opportunity to meet project goals.

A CM being on board from concept to completion is a tremendous asset to a school district. A CM will see the finished design as more than a set of drawings. They will ultimately see those drawings as a description of the district’s overall goals and priorities and will gain an appreciation for certain elements from playing a role in the overall development of the facilities plan. In a traditional design-bid-build approach it can be easy to reduce budgets by cutting space or certain amenities and aesthetics. A CM has an appreciation and understanding from participating in pre-referendum planning to work to maintain certain elements that preserve overall goals and budget by finding other opportunities during pre-construction and construction to save dollars.

Collaboration between district, CM, and architect results in best value outcomes.

At Welliver, we strive to develop a quality professional relationship with the architect, the school district, and contractors. Often times in traditional school construction where a CM is not present the relationship between the architect and contractors can be adversarial. We feel that we have the responsibility to districts to work together as a team to produce the best value outcomes that will result in the lowest cost for construction and fastest schedule while producing a quality finished project.

Value Engineering maximizes budget.

Having a CM in the pre construction phase is critical for cost savings. The CM can recommend construction methods and materials that ultimately will reduce cost and improve quality. Quality value engineering can also lead to substantial time savings in the schedule.

Time is money – a CM gets it.

At Welliver, we take great pride in monitoring schedule and hitting design and construction deadlines. A good CM will keep the schedule on track and will work with contractors directly to ensure they are meeting milestones as agreed to in the contract.

A quality CM validates the solution for districts.

We bring an investigative approach to what a district is trying to accomplish and how best to deliver the solution. We are essentially turning the process into a form of a math equation and utilizing a team approach with the architect and district validating the solution with facts and numbers.

Welliver is poised and ready to assist with K-12 projects. One of our key tenets is “collaboration before a shovel hits the ground” and we pride ourselves on being a quality partner and teammate to school districts that we serve.

Mike joined Welliver as our K12 Communication Liaison after 33 years working in the K12 education sector. He brings a comprehensive understanding and direct exposure to all of the issues facing public education today. In his 13 years as the Superintendent in Corning-Painted Post (CPP) Area School District, Mike led the district through four successful referendums which led to $260M in new construction from 2010-2020. Mike bridges the gap between Welliver’s construction management teams and K12 school district superintendents, school boards, and facility directors. He provides expertise and guidance, as well as helps districts carry out capital improvement initiatives involving pre-referendum voting, budget management, community outreach, and buildings and grounds personnel. Mike can be reached at [email protected].