Construction and renovation project management/successes between all stakeholders

  • A multi-year bond program from conception until all the authorized bond proceeds are sold and the dollars are spent involves a great deal of work, collaboration, and dedication of hundreds of individuals throughout the life of the program.  If all the subcontractors are included in the count, the number of people involved is in the thousands.  Some the major categories of stakeholders involved throughout the program included:

    • Board of Trustees (considers and approves every step in the process)
    • Community Visioning Committee
    • Bond Steering Committee
    • Dozens of school district staff, including teachers, principals, and other administrators
    • City personnel where the construction takes place (City Council, Planning and Zoning, Building Inspectors)
    • School district’s financial advisors and bond underwriters (tax planning and bond issuance)
    • School district’s attorneys and bond legal counsel (contract negotiations, elections, and bond issuance)
    • School district’s demographer (estimating future student enrollment and planning attendance zones)
    • County election personnel (holds bond election)
    • Engineering and architectural firms (designs buildings and renovations and oversees construction)
    • General contractor (Plus, contractor’s subcontractors)

    While it requires all the above stakeholders to ensure a successful bond program from start to finish, this section will focus primarily on the relationship between the school district, the architectural firm, and the general contractor, and how this relationship was vitally important to the success of the 2016 bond program.

    During the visioning and bond steering committees’ work, Coppell ISD utilized the authorized architect, Stantec, to provide conceptual ideas regarding potential construction and renovation. The architectural firm and general contractors, Balfour Beatty and Northstar Builders, worked closely with the Bond Steering Committee to estimate the potential cost of projects that were being considered for inclusion in the bond program recommended to the Board of Trustees.

    Once the bond was approved by voters, district personnel started immediately working with the architectural firm, Stantec, to vision and design the new Coppell Middle School West to be built in Cypress Waters.  The district also started the bidding process to hire a general contractor for all the new construction and renovation projects that required a general contractor. Texas purchasing laws for school districts do not require or even allow a district to competitively bid for architectural services.  However, a formal bid process is required for the building contractors.  Coppell ISD utilizes a purchasing method called Construction Manager at Risk for all its major construction and renovation projects.  This bidding method allows the school district’s personnel to be closely involved throughout the bidding process and even in helping choose the most qualified subcontractors.  Equally important with this method, the hired construction manager cannot go over a Guaranteed Maximum Cost approved by the Board of Trustees and must return any proceeds not spent during construction. With the school district closely following and participating in every step of the bidding and construction process, this allowed Coppell ISD to save millions of dollars throughout the last five years.  More will be discussed about these savings in Section VIII.

    During the design process with Stantec, their design for the new CMS West campus was estimated to be about $7 million over budget.  Stantec was unable to alter their proposed design to enable the project to be within budget.  Therefore, Coppell ISD central administration recommended to the Board of Trustees that Stantec’s contract be terminated and another very qualified architectural firm, Corgan, be hired to design all the bond projects requiring an architect, including the new CMS West. The Board concurred and hired Corgan.

    After the bid process, two construction managers were approved by the Board to complete the renovations and new construction, Balfour Beatty and Northstar Builders Group.  Approximately one half of the projects were awarded to each contractor.  However, when the district was ready to initiate some of the projects to be managed by Balfour Beatty, district staff learned that virtually all the Balfour Beatty principal project managers and job superintendents that would be managing the Coppell ISD projects had left the company.  Therefore, there was a great deal of uncertainty and potential risk remaining with this contractor and working with unknown new project managers and job superintendents.  Subsequently, CISD central administration recommended to the Board that the Balfour Beatty contract be terminated, and the associated projects be awarded to Northstar Builders.  The Board concurred.  No school district money was lost as a result of terminating the contracts with Stantec or Balfour Beatty and re-awarding them to Corgan and Northstar, respectively.  In fact, as will be discussed later, this partnership led to significant savings.

    Now that the team was firmly in place, CISD staff, Northstar Builders, and Corgan started working closely together on the design of the new CMS West and other construction projects. 

    This team worked almost daily together throughout the life of the bond.  Some of the more significant projects completed were:

    • New CMS West in Cypress Waters
    • Canyon Ranch Elementary in Valley Ranch
    • Complete renovation of Coppell High School
    • Conversion of the old CMS West campus into the ninth-grade campus
    • Complete renovation of CMS East
    • Restroom and shower renovations at all older campuses
    • CMS North band hall, weight room and locker room renovations

    A very important component contributing to the success of this bond program was building healthy, trusting relationships with the primary stakeholders.  When all the parties worked closely together, and trusted and respected each other’s opinions, the process was not only more enjoyable to all persons involved, but incredibly effective in designing and building the best possible educational facilities while saving significant dollars.  The incredible construction and renovation successes enjoyed in this five-year bond program can largely be attributed to this most effective relationship between the school district, the architectural firm, and the construction manager.