The construction of a new Barrington Middle School will move one step closer to reality on Friday.
At 10 a.m. on Friday morning, Barrington school officials will open contractors' bids for the project. The public is invited to attend the bid-opening.
Once the bids are opened, school officials will take about 10 days to review them. Members of the school building committee are hoping to settle on a single bid by the end of the month; the committee is scheduled to meet on Jan. 29.
"We're hoping to make a recommendation on the 29th," said Anna Clancy, a member of the school committee who also serves on the school building committee.
The Barrington School Committee is slated to meet in the beginning of February, where it could vote to approve the recommended bid.
Once the bid is approved and the contract is finalized, work can begin on the new middle school. Officials are still hopeful that construction will start in March, and if all goes as planned, the new school will be open to students in Aug. 2019.
Friday's bid-opening will play an important role in the project — bids need to fall within the anticipated cost estimates for the project.
Taxpayers approved a $68.4 million bond for the new school, but that amount is intended to cover the entire project cost. The bid for the building construction is expected to be less than $68.4, but officials would not specify the estimate for building construction.
Barrington school officials are expecting more than two dozens companies will bid on the Barrington Middle School project. Patrick Guida, co-chairman of the school building committee, said officials are not obligated to select the lowest bid, but can instead choose the lowest qualified bid or the "lowest responsible bidder."
Barrington settled on a "design-bid-build" approach to the project, and is not using a "construction manager at risk" or CMAR.
"…whether we should have used a CMAR rather than a design-bid-build arrangement is moot," wrote Mr. Guida in a recent email. "Our attorneys emphatically explained that we would have put ourselves at substantial legal risk if we had engaged a CMAR at the time the decision had to be made on this to accommodate our completion schedule.
"Even though the state law was modified as of July 1 to make engagement by a municipality of a CMAR more feasible, Barrington does not yet have in place the regulatory support process necessary to accommodate the CMAR model and we certainly didn't have it early last year when the decision was made. Although no one questions the validity of the legal advice, several members of the building committee were disappointed by these circumstances as they would have preferred the CMAR structure.
"That said, other members of the building committee, including some of those involved vocationally in the building industry, had a preference for the design-bid-build Model we were ultimately obliged to go with."
Mr. Guida said that even the members of the building committee who initially supported a CMAR model eventually felt compelled to fall back on the design-bid-build model because of "legal reasons."
Barrington has taken a number of steps to limit its risk with the project, said officials.
The school department hired two consulting firms to reconcile cost estimates for the project. Miyakoda Consulting and Faithful & Gould — Miyakoda works for the project architect Kaestle Boos Associates, while Faithful & Gould was hired as an independent third party — had reviewed the cost estimates for the project and finished only $4,000 apart.
Barrington has also hired a company to serve as a watchdog overseeing the construction. The company will be on site every day during the project to monitor the work of the contractor and its subcontractors. Officials said the company will share weekly reports with the school district.
Barrington has also built in contingencies for the construction costs and associated soft costs. Officials have a 6.75 percent contingency for construction costs and a 5 percent contingency for soft costs.
Throughout the planning phase, Barrington's school building committee has worked with Dan Tavares, who serves as the owner's project manager, and Sam Bradner, of the Peregrine Group. Kaestle Boos Associates is the architecture firm that designed the new school.