By BENJAMIN S. EVANS
The Williamsburg Community Schools Board received a petition calling for a voter-approved election for the construction of a new competition gym at Williamsburg High School on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
The petition, which only required 71 signatures, donned 102 signatures from community voters and is required to be filed with the auditor’s office by Dec. 20.
The board then unanimously approved the resolution calling for a special election on the issuance of general obligation bonds, not to exceed $6.7 million.
The board members plan on informing the public about the plan at various town hall meetings before the February vote.
The preferred concourse plan had an initial projected cost of $6.9 million, but after reconsidering the plan, the board members elided to subtract from the project’s contingency funds to lower the cost to $6.7 million.
The Williamsburg School Board directed the Raider Pride Committee to gather signatures for a petition to proceed with a vote on a $6.7 million bond issue regarding the WHS gymnasium complex proposal.
The wording was finalized at a previous meeting, with a dollar amount cemented “not to exceed $6.7 million,” and the board directed Montz to give the petition to the Raider Pride Committee so its members could gather signatures.
Having done this, getting 102 signatures, the bond issue will now go to a vote on the first Tuesday in February.
Voters rejected a $7.9 million bond issue earlier this year to fund a new gym. This gym would replace the current gymnasium.
Two basic options were shown at subsequent meetings. The first was a concourse gym, the one now accepted and going to a vote, and the second was a ground level gym, which was categorically denied by board members and interested community members.
The board also heard from an expert concerning construction management on the possible gym proposal.
Michael Russell from Septagon Construction talked about the difference between having a construction manager and general contracting.
“We have found that construction management has worked very well in the school marketplace,” he said. “Accountability, holding the contractor’s feet to the fire to get the job done, you as the owner have that ability to understand all the parts and pieces and all the costs are going, project controls right at your fingertips. It’s really an open book process.”
The essence of a construction manager is an agent that works directly for an owner on the behalf of the owner to run a certain project, such as the building of the proposed gym complex. On a project like the proposed gym, the managerial role usually falls to the superintendent’s office.
The construction manager, according to Russell, works directly with subcontractors or general contractors to maximize the owner’s dollar and the separate contractors’ efficiencies. The construction manager then coordinates with the owner, in this case the district, to make sure the parties are satisfied.
Russell said construction managers don’t bid for a project, but are paid in fees normally ranging from 3 percent to 5 percent of a project bid.
The board decided to keep the discussion of having a construction manager alive, but to wait to see how the community accepts the proposed petition before taking any decisive actions.