The board heard presentations on a request for proposals from three architectural firms Monday, Dec. 16. The board will approve a final contract at its January meeting.
Superintendent Nick Ouellette said the district is looking for a firm to lead a community engagement process so the district can understand what the community wants from its facilities as well as the current condition of those facilities .
“It’s a community process,” he said. “We’re looking at what do we need to do with our facilities and we need to engage the community as to what do they want out of our facilities.”
The request for proposals included two parts. The first is for a community engagement process to determine and prioritize facility needs and assess costs. The second is for a pre-referendum actions and costs, if a referendum is recommended after completion of the first part.
A referendum is not a foregone conclusion, Ouellette said, but it is something that comes up when talking about how to pay for things that are not necessarily in the budget.
Bray Architects President Matthew Wolfert said the company follows seven steps: project initiation, community engagement strategy, needs assessment, option/solution exploration, community surveying, option/solution refinement and final report.
Senior associate Michael Hacker said they provide two approaches for community engagement. One is focus groups and community engagement sessions that are built around getting feedback from community members. The other is a citizen committee effort that has administration step back and function in a support capacity.
Educational visioning is critical at the elementary level, Director of Design Stephen Kuhnen said. They need to understand the district’s vision — administration’s, staff’s and students’ — to bring the facilities into 21st century learning.
Wolfert said after all the engagement, the process will focus on creating equitable space in every building.
They don’t assume a referendum, Wolferts said. The process is about getting to the survey, which will decide whether the city is ready.
Bray Architects has had an 82% success rate with referendums in the last five years, and Hudson was one of those.
The timeline for the study is a path to either November 2020 or April 2021.
The cost of the first phase would be a fixed fee of $107,000, including engineering evaluations and structural analysis. The second phase for referendum work would be $7,500.
Board member Rob Brown asked how the company would engage the voting public that are not parents or staff — about 75% in Hudson. Wolfert said the focus group community engagement option usually works better to engage that population compared to the citizen committee, which is more of a time commitment for those involved.
Brown also asked project budgeting. Wolfert explained it’s done by the architectural team, and they use real time data from bids.
Board member Heather Logelin asked how to take the focus beyond to get the nice aesthetic spaces. Kuhnen said that is part of the vision process, to identify the design parameters like natural light and types of spaces.
Brown also asked about the number of change orders needed for the district’s last project, and how this one would be different. Wolfert said this project is not as complicated as the high school one, and they will be more diligent to deliver as few change orders as possible. The number form the last project did include some mutually desired changes, he said.
HSR Associates architect Tim Rupert said the process proposed by the company would include master planning, a community task force to define criteria and options, community engagement and survey, evaluate and communicate results and a referendum campaign.
It boils down to proper planning and listening. The company will gather input from students, staff, community members, business leaders, board members and administrators. It is important to come up with solutions that are meaningful to the community, architect Brad Simonson said.
The process will include analyzing facilities to determine needs, looking at traffic patterns, effects of daylighting and more. The focus will be not only on formal learning spaces, but informal ones as well like collaboration areas and transitional spaces.
Rupert said they would facilitate community task force exercises to bring the stakeholders together and hear from as many voices as possible. The community should be involved during the entire process, he said.
The company has about an 85% success rate with referendums, with 44 successful referendums out of 52.
The timeline for the study would begin in January, with master planning running through March, focus groups February through April and pre-referendum work ending in November 2020.
The cost for community engagement is a lump sum of $30,000. The cost of pre-referendum work is a lump sum of $20,000.
Brown asked how the project budgeting is handled. Rupert said they do their own budgeting. Simonson said they work with engineering staff, construction administrators and test the budget with recent or current projects to be sure they’re on target.
Brown also asked how HSR Associates would get nonparents and staff involved . Rupert said it requires reaching out to them directly, not just getting them to facility meetings. In the past he said they have had meetings with key individuals in the community. Simonson said that through one-on-one meetings or small group settings with people who had some negativity in the past, they’ve been able to incorporate their ideas and have those people become proactively positive for the community and district.
Brown also asked how they would ensure minimal change orders. Simonson said up front work is critical, and then it’s all about ensuring the construction documents are detailed and leave nothing to the imagination for bidders.
Wold Architects and Engineers partner Vaughn Dierks said the company’s proposed process is to build the team, gather data on maintenance and educational adequacy needs, gather input in a community engagement process, agree on needs, develop and evaluate options and make a recommendation to the board.
The facility analysis will take about one week per building, with tours of facilities, documenting findings, a preliminary report and developing solutions for shortcomings, Project Manager Ben Beery said.
Developing and evaluating options would be done at a committee level. One option is to have one committee meeting five to six times to review the data, develop criteria and make a recommendation to the School Board. This committee could have between 20-40 people, Dierks said.
The other option is to have a few smaller committees take on just one aspect, such as educational issues, and then have some of those committee members combine on a larger options committee.
There also could be community presentations so people can be a part of the process without being on committees, Dierks said.
The timeline sets preliminary recommendation in June, with a potential referendum in November 2020.
The total cost for the process would be $93,000.
Brown asked how project budgeting is done. Beery explained each discipline will estimate their portion, but the benefit of having everyone sitting together is getting the total project cost. As a 300-person firm, they are bidding hundreds of projects a year and can pull from that base of data.
Brown also asked how they would get nonparents and nonstaff to engage. Dierks said the biggest piece is knowing who the community leaders are, and speaking to them about the process and how they should have a strong voice.
Logelin asked how the process can focus on aesthetics. Dierks said the facility analysis serves as the starting point with communities. The other component is long-range planning. Project architect Valerie Peterson said it is also about how things are communicated.
Brown asked how the process would minimize change orders. Dierks said their process of quality control looks at all the things they can identify ahead of time to minimize the amount of unforeseen things. The company’s change order history is below 3%.
Board President Jamie Johnson said he was concerned by the lack of survey mentioned in the process. When the district first went out for a new high school without doing a survey, they had to go back to the drawing board, he said. Dierks said they do believe in surveys, but did not mention them because they would not be the ones doing them. He said the district could work with a couple different survey groups.