Bond Oversight Committee reviews progress in third quarter

Bond Oversight Committee members Bob Eury and Phoebe Tudor

Bond Oversight Committee members Bob Eury and Phoebe Tudor

The Bond Oversight Committee held its third quarter meeting on Tuesday, getting an update on the status of 2012 bond building projects and a preview of upcoming fourth quarter activities.

About 90 percent of the Group 1 Schools have entered into the Construction Documents phase and are working through the regulatory process and permitting with the city. All schools in this group are on track to begin construction work before the end of this year.

“The City of Houston has been a really good partner with us on these projects,” said Dan Bankhead, HISD’s general manager of facilities design. “They’ve been working with us to get the permits we need and have been willing to meet with us whenever necessary.”

Group 2 schools are close behind, currently working on final design plans and preparing for the upcoming construction phase to begin. Group 3 and 4 schools are ahead of schedule. All schools in these groups have entered in the planning and design phase, architects have been selected, and Project Advisory Teams (PATs) have been established and have held initial meetings.

The committee also discussed the dramatic increase in current and anticipated construction in the Houston area that is having a significant impact on the cost and availability of subcontractors, materials, and labor for construction projects in all sectors.

Even though these developments are causing the price to build each school to increase, the project team remains committed to adhering to the approved budget.

“We have a budget and we have a scope, and we have to make it work,” said Robert Sands, HISD’s officer of construction.

In the fourth quarter, all projects will undergo a scope-to-budget review to reconcile the rising construction costs to the approved budget for each school. PATs will review the issues and recommend modifications as necessary.

“We don’t want to compromise quality, especially on infrastructure,” said Leo Bobadilla, HISD chief operations officer. “We may have to have some tough conversations, but unfortunately, this is the reality.”

The size of the anticipated budget challenges will become more certain later in the fourth quarter as each project is analyzed. The district is committed to providing updates to stakeholders as any changes or plans are developed.

“You may have to compress the timeline for the sake of project cost,” said BOC member Gary White. “Everybody can see the cranes around town – they understand supply and demand.”