BC superintendent talks immediate future on elected bond projects

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, May 11, 2022

BRIDGE CITY — Bridge City residents voted in favor of the bond that will build a new middle school and career and a technical education building.

Now that the bond has passed, the real work begins, according to Superintendent Mike Kelly.

“I have told our architects that the school district did the easy part of getting the bonds passed,” he said.

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The CTE building will serve an already growing program and district, along with the new middle school to replace the current one, which was built in 1962.

Kelly said the school board and district were transparent with voters about the bond and will continue to do so throughout the duration of the projects.

“Our approach as a school district was to be as open and honest as possible,” he said. “We just wanted to educate the community as much as we could. I want people to understand that doesn’t stop with a successful bond passing. We will communicate timelines, schedules and things that are happening as different pieces are being done.”

Kelly said the first step for the bond projects is the request for qualifications (RFQ). The district will advertise the project and seek someone to oversee the construction.

“We are seeking someone to come in and work for the school district,” he said. “They will come in and get all of the subcontractors and work with the architects and with us as we move forward to get this done. This week and next week, those advertisements will go out. We tentatively have June 2 as the RFQ due date. We’ll get those companies, review those proposals and select a construction manager at the end of June.”

Kelly said any further timelines are fairly tentative and depend on the contractor.

“We still have some schematic design that we need to do,” he said. “We will have geotechs done on the property where we are looking to put those buildings to make sure there are no reasons we can’t put the building there. There will be more design development.”

The projects will likely go out to bid in November with construction starting in December or January.

Kelly reiterated the district is sensitive to the economic climate.

“There are things we had no control over back when we called this bond on Feb. 14,” he said. “Inflation wasn’t what it is. There was no Russia-in-Ukraine crisis. Gas prices weren’t what they are now.

“We are very hopeful we can have the taxes impact people over time instead of immediately. We are hoping to spread out the impact. This is going to be a long process.”

Kelly said the goal is to be in the new buildings by August 2024. He said the district is trying to be proactive and properly plan as much as possible for the unexpected. Many districts that have ongoing projects from bonds passed prior to 2020 have had to reevaluate and make changes due to the rise in supply cost.

“We worked with our financial advisor for the district,” Kelly said. “Because of COVID and supply chain issues that started in 2020, we did build some inflation into our fund balance that should cover any unforeseen costs. We feel like we have some buildings in development so we don’t have to make any big cuts.”