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 Facilities JPA Helps Save Money on Montgomery High Project

​The Facilities unit at the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) helped the Sweetwater Union High School District save enough money on its project to modernize Montgomery High School to be able to add administrative offices and additional classrooms.

The K-12 Public School Districts and Community Colleges Facility Joint Powers Authority led by the San Diego County Superintendent of Schools worked with the district and contractors to save enough money on the $23-million project to add additional classrooms and administrative offices to the project, which originally only called for a gymnasium and 10 classrooms.

The district asked personnel with SDCOE’s Educational Facilities Solutions Group for help overseeing the project in 2012.

“It has been a great experience and saved us a significant amount of money,” said Manuel Rubio, director of grants and communications for the district. “Ultimately, it’s about saving taxpayer dollars.”

By working through the joint powers authority, the district was able to hire a contractor using a design-build model that allows for more stakeholder participation in the process.  Stakeholders included school and district personnel, community members, SDCOE staff and the design-build contractor that included architect and engineers as well as contractors.

“It’s almost as if the owner, builder and designer are all on the same team,” said Scott Thomas, who helped design the work for Zagrodnik + Thomas Architects.  “That’s a big advantage.”

The final project included a two-story gymnasium, additional classrooms, new administrative offices, a renovated lunch court, landscaping, a protected school entrance, and added security cameras throughout the campus.  Construction started 12 months ago. The project was completed on July 23, when students returned to school, including all furniture purchase, delivery, unpacking and assembly.

The money saved through the process not only allowed the district to build more, but also allowed for state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. By adding classrooms, officials were able to remove reloadable buildings from the campus and open up a central quad area, Rubio said.

“It just opens up the campus,” he said. “It has an open, student-friendly kind of feel.”

SDCOE’s Educational Facility Solutions Group provides full project-planning and construction-delivery services and also works with districts throughout the county to help them get state funding for modernization and construction projects.