Builders Exchange of Michigan: At what point do you hear about a school’s need to update their facility and/or technology?
Josh Syzmanski: It varies with school districts, depending on how much they value having a construction manager and if we have a relationship with the district already.
BX: What is the best role you can play to help the school achieve these updates?
JS: Our job is to lay out everything broadly and present that to the district – and the community – so that they can decide what’s important and what they can afford compared to their current debt and the potential growth of the district.
BX: If you are not hired prior to the vetting process, how do you find out what bonds are going up for proposal? Do you feel you get the information in a timely way?
JS: I feel that we are aware in a timely manner. If the district wants us involved on a project in the early stages, we’ll know. Sometimes the architect brings in the construction manager as soon as possible, and we do all the meetings together, which is what we prefer.
BX: How do you assist the schools to ensure they are compliant with the state guidelines for the bidding process?
JS: The process should be following Act 451 and we are bound by contract to follow the rules, which is necessary when serving the school district. Ten days prior to the bid date, the bond proposal needs to be published on the Sigma website; most of the time, the school will let us handle that part for them. Unfortunately, 10 days minimum doesn’t necessarily give you a lot of competitive bids. We prefer three weeks to get bidders.
BX: Do you feel like the process used for bidding on school bond projects works well? How could it be improved?
JS: I think the current process is transparent, but not necessarily conducive to competitive bids. Without competitive bidding, the school doesn’t get a good value. There’s no law or process that’s going to fix that issue; it’s up to the schools to be diligent about hiring good professionals. You can’t legislate value. The way you deliver the process matters.
BX: Do you feel your quality of work impacts the students and staff, and their ability to learn and teach?
JS: Absolutely. That’s why we do it. In a lot of communities, the school is their identity, and major changes have a huge impact on the school and the community as a whole.
BX: Do you think the repeal of the Prevailing Wage Act will have a significant impact on these projects?
JS: It certainly won’t impact the quality. Now, hopefully, good quality sub-contractors might be interested in this kind of work when they weren’t before.
This article was originally featured in the Spring 2019 Bonds Issue of The Source, our bi-annual magazine mailed to thousands of project owners, architects, engineers, and all BX members! The Fall 2019 Technology Issue has arrived in your mailboxes! Have questions or feedback about The Source? Let us know!