Category: K12

Round Rock ISD Breaks Ground on Early College High School

Round Rock ISD, HPM, Bartlett Cocke General Contractors, O’Connell Robertson have announced the groundbreaking of a $31 million facility for Early College High School (ECHS), an existing high school with more than 500 students in Round Rock, Texas. HPM will serve as program manager for the project.

ECHS provides an advanced curriculum at both the high school and college levels, allowing students the unique opportunity to prepare for careers directly out of high school or advancing them in their college credits. Currently, ECHS operates out of 10 portable buildings on Austin Community College’s Round Rock campus. This project will consolidate the students, staff and faculty into one 46,500-square-foot facility.

The new building will include classrooms and science labs, student breakout spaces, a cafeteria and central common area to accommodate 150 students, a fitness center, an administration suite, outdoor dining facilities, and study spaces. The site will also be located on Austin Community College’s Round Rock Campus on College Park Drive, allowing students easy access to both campus facilities.

Round Rock

“We are pleased to continue our legacy of providing premier program management services on K-12 initiatives with this meaningful, game-changing project for Round Rock ISD,” said HPM President, Ryan Austin. “Soon, ECHS students and faculty will have a state-of-the-art facility to call home that provides the nurturing, modernized learning environment needed to continue achieving the level of education they deserve. We are excited to work alongside Round Rock ISD and additional partners and look forward to announcing future milestones as progress advances.”

HPM will offer project management, quality control and preconstruction services for the project, ensuring budget and compliance is adhered to throughout construction. Bartlett Cocke General Contractors serves as the Construction Manager at-Risk collaborating with O’Connell Robertson as the architect of record for the school facility.

HPM Hosts Second Annual Georgia Education Executives Summit

April 24-26, executive leaders in Georgia education gathered for HPM‘s Second Annual Summit. School districts from across the state were represented at the event held in Adairsville. The Summit is a premier event designed to connect leaders in the K-12 industry to create unique strategies for navigating common challenges. Speakers included national experts in financing, staffing, planning and international business. Presenters shared insights on optimizing learning environments for students while maximizing facility lifespans.

About the Program

Featured keynote speakers included Cheryl Logan, Executive Director at the University of Pennsylvania and Casey Morris, Senior Director of Capital Planning at Ameresco. HPM’s Chris AlleeMegan Whitten Cordingly, Greg Ellis, Jake Ortego and Tracy Richter also shared best practices for navigating successful capital improvement programs. Each session was designed to foster a conversational, interactive environment to build connectivity among participants.

In a particularly insightful session highlighting program controls, attendees took an in-depth look at cutting-edge technology designed to empower leaders to make more informed decisions and better communicate with internal and external stakeholders. Embracing the digital world is paramount to achieving a successful program. Guests were also offered an approach to facility condition assessments that breaks the cyclical nature of facility planning. When implemented, this strategy enables K-12 leaders to create actionable, defensible and sustainable capital plans resulting in predictable outcomes.

The Summit’s closing session provided information on the role of educational facility standards in the development of an effective long-range facilities plan. These standards play a critical role in shaping the curriculum. Furthermore, they can be utilized to inform new construction, renovation and modernization, ultimately serving as a tool to generate improved educational performance.

“I was extremely satisfied with the quality of the content provided at The Summit,” said an attendee. “The Setting the Standard session brought everything together and was tremendously applicable. I am very likely to attend the event again and recommend that my peers in Georgia education do the same.”

Why HPM?

HPM partners with K-12 school districts to create and implement data-driven long-range planning initiatives. This team of seasoned planning professionals is comprised of former educators turned facilities conditions and assessment experts. They frequently teach the essential practice of integrated planning into capital improvement programs. HPM’s continuous planning practices consistently yield efficiencies and savings to K-12 clients. In turn, every dollar within a bond program is utilized to its full potential. Learn more about HPM’s extensive resume managing large-scale programs on behalf of K12 school districts.

Project Controls Manager Making Waves for Females in Construction

Project Controls Manager, Dr. Anusree Saseendran started her career with HPM as a Project Controls Intern in 2020. Today, she manages a $500 million budget, meticulously tracking and safeguarding the investments of her client. With a Ph.D. in Construction Management from Texas A&M University, Anu is uniquely equipped to position owners to realize their goals. To celebrate Women in Construction Week, we sat down with Anu to discuss her career journey.

What drew you to the industry? Did you have reservations about pursuing a career in construction as a woman?

My interest in the construction industry stemmed directly from my upbringing in the Middle East, where construction was unavoidable and ubiquitous. I was repeatedly cautioned against this because of the industry’s reputation for being unwelcoming toward women. Instead of deterring me, these warnings only fueled my determination to prove that I could succeed in it.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

In my role in Project Controls, I find immense satisfaction in working with numbers and spreadsheets. I gather data from various sources, process and analyze it in rows and columns, and piece it together like a puzzle to grasp the broader picture. This aspect of my work makes for a dynamic and engaging work environment where each day presents new and unique challenges — essentially, endless puzzles to solve! I also find great reward in the tangible, real-time impact of my efforts, such as streamlining processes and facilitating cost savings for the owner.

How have you overcome setbacks or stereotypes in a male-dominated industry?

One of the best pieces of advice that I have been given upon joining the construction workforce is ‘don’t be afraid to ask questions, but also educate yourself on the subject matter’. Oftentimes, there is a lot of focus on encouraging women to raise their hands more frequently and ask more questions. In my opinion, it is infinitely more important for each of us to be responsible for our continuous learning. It is up to us to stay curious and remain updated on the latest trends and best practices to remain competitive in our field. Asking questions is just one aspect of that. I have also found pursuing education and training opportunities offered both within HPM and externally to be immensely valuable.

Project Controls

What would you tell a young female considering a career in construction?

Be resilient: Recognize that the construction industry can be challenging at times, but don’t let setbacks or obstacles deter you from pursuing your goals. Give yourself permission to fail and learn from your mistakes.

Seek mentorship: Find mentors both within HPM and outside of it. This will help you learn about job opportunities, gain valuable insights, and expand your support system. Mentors can provide guidance, support, and advice as you navigate your career path.

Explore: The image that comes to mind when you think of a job in construction is that of a person wearing PPE on a jobsite. There is so much more to construction than sitework. Take the time to research different career paths within the industry. Find your passion and pursue opportunities that best fit your interests and skills.

What is your hope for the future of women in construction?

Working in construction has sometimes been an isolating experience for me as a woman. I hope that as more women pursue their careers in this field, and as the number of women in construction leadership positions increase, this issue becomes a thing of the past.

How are you uniquely able to make an impact on the industry as a female?

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I am able to serve as an advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity. By raising awareness of gender disparities and advocating for inclusive practices, I am helping to create a more equitable and welcoming industry for the future. Performing well and advancing in my career in construction enables me to inspire other women to follow in my path by challenging stereotypes and misconceptions about careers in construction.

Chambers County High School Breaks Ground Ending 50-Year Federal Order

Chambers County Schools, located in East Alabama held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new high school on Friday, February 23. The new facility merges Valley High School and Lafayette High School, creating the long-awaited Chambers County High School. The property is located on Ram Stadium Drive.

For 50 years, the county has been under a federal desegregation order. Superintendent, Casey Chambley has worked diligently to upend the order throughout his tenure. To move the district forward, the county’s school board procured HPM‘s planning department to develop a facilities master plan for a consolidated facility. HPM guided the district in terms of construction requirements, as well as the allocation of resources to ensure an optimal learning environment. The site selected by the board minimizes time spent on buses and maximizes instructional time.

As the process has evolved, HPM has managed the design, budget and preconstruction. The district hired Cooper Carry to serve as the architect of record for the school system.

Chambers County

Vice President of Business Development, Andi Sims joined city leaders to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony at the new property.

“I could not be any prouder to be on this journey with my friends –my people — as Chambers County looks toward a new history as the Fighting Falcons”, said Andi. “Thank you for bringing me and my HPM colleagues along for this exciting chapter in the life of our community.”

Chambers County

What Does a Field Coordinator Do?

The Ninjas of Program Management

HPM offers a unique approach to program management because of our construction origin. Born of an 80-year-old construction company, we are well-versed not only in managing projects, but also in constructing them. Essential in leveraging our construction management expertise on-site are our Field Coordinators. But just what does a Field Coordinator do? More than anything, their role is to protect the investment of the owner, serving as their eyes and ears on the project. The client’s interests are their interests, and the client’s priorities are their priorities. As the “boots on the ground”, their responsibilities can be summarized in three primary categories.

Schedule

Schedule delays are one of the most common and detrimental threats to construction projects. With a Field Coordinator on site, progress is measured daily. This provides project managers and project controls teams with up-to-date, accurate information to foster better planning, communication and courses for remedial action if necessary. Having a representative on site also provides a level of accountability for all parties working on the project. With clear milestones mapped out and regular assessments taking place, contractors and subcontractors are motivated to deliver projects on time.

Safety

Field Coordination entails a great deal of safety monitoring. Though safety is the ultimate responsibility of the General Contractor, Field Coordinators are there to ensure protocols are being strictly adhered to. This protects the owner from potential lawsuits. An important factor is ensuring the job site is safe, particularly when located in a highly trafficked area. For instance, HPM manages numerous projects for clients in the K-12 and higher education industries. On these projects, students and faculty are often attending classes near active job sites. Field Coordinators add tremendous value in implementing the highest level of safety precautions to protect everyone in the vicinity of the project.

Quality

Another risk accompanying construction projects is verifying the quality with which the project is built. The standard inspection processes employed on most projects require only bi-weekly or monthly walk-throughs. With a full-time Field Coordinator, these inspections happen daily. Even better, the FC walking the project is inspecting with the owner in mind. This means potential trouble spots are evaluated and reported daily, avoiding threats to quality that may be overlooked and cause headaches throughout the lifetime of a building. Having a Field Coordinator is a wise way to guarantee your facility goes beyond meeting a checklist and is built to last!

 

Lump Sum General Contractors… Yes or No?

When contracting for construction utilizing the CMAR approach most owners ask themselves if agreeing to a lump sum for general conditions type cost is the best contracting method. While there is not one answer to all questions, there should be a discussion of the pros and cons associated with payment plans for general conditions type costs.

Where to Start…

A great place to start is analyzing the reasons for selecting a fixed amount for GCs in the first place. Are these types of costs difficult to review, in that there are many small expenses? Are some of these costs difficult to understand, such as payroll burden and insurance? Might some of these costs, such as supervision and management, be subjective? Are we trying to eliminate the need to evaluate subjectivity?

Secondly, if we are going to specify a fixed amount for GCs, we must define General Conditions. Defining anything labeled as “General” takes work and specificity in order to ensure understanding.

Because there is no one “correct” approach, the question should not be binary (yes or no). There is a third option, Not to Exceed (NTE). NTE can be a good option in that the sum cannot be higher than, but could be less than, and can also be reviewed or audited if needed.

Factors to Consider

Without writing a dissertation on each of these points, it is important to consider problems that might arise from the lump sum GC’s method, along with other relevant factors.

Sure, invoices take time to review, and GC’s costs come with a lot of invoices. However, in some cases, not all invoices must be reviewed. Having the ability to review, but not the requirement, may be helpful.

Getting the lowest GC’s bid is occasionally a good thing, but having the best CM supervision is almost always a good thing. How many projects have gone awry because of excessive supervision or overly qualified personnel? A low bid for GCs (at least 50% complete supervision and management) positively correlates to less supervision and less experienced personnel. Incentivizing less supervision and experience is not our goal, but it may be the result.

There can be a case for certain types of GC’s costs being subjective. Mostly, off-site vs. on-site persons as reimbursable. This can be mitigated by making the dividing line clear in your contract and including that contract in your RFP.

In addition to the possible misaligned goals of the owner and CM with low bid GCs, another result of an LS GC’s approach could be a CM shifting GC’s type costs to the Cost of Work, either in a subcontract or in self-performed work.

Transparency is Key

Lastly, what starts as fixed, doesn’t always remain fixed. Having full transparency to actual costs when a claim for additional GCs arises might be helpful.

When we have these discussions (which are quite frequent), we agree with the CM that the Lump Sum is not adjustable. This, however, does not mean that it is not auditable. Also, just because the CM (at the moment) might think that certain costs are not reimbursable doesn’t mean that they are not project-related records that are auditable by the Owner’s accountants.

Why Does this Matter?

You may ask, “Why do we care, as long as we are not being charged any more than we agreed to and if they aren’t going to bill us that cost?” There are many reasons, including:

Credits related to the reimbursable Cost of Work may be miscoded to the LS or not reimbursable job cost (accidentally, of course), thereby inflating the Cost of Work.

Costs that are to be apportioned to the lump sum and to the reimbursable cost may only be charged to the reimbursable cost (again, an oversight). Having access to all the cost records would make such errors easy to spot (Dumpsters for demo work vs. dumpsters for new construction trash, where demo work is being self-performed on a lump sum basis).

Costs that are charged to non-reimbursable may point to other errors, like consultants being billed as employees (at fixed labor rates), or rental equipment from third parties being charged as if it were owned by the CM.

Illegal expenditures may be hidden in LS or non-reimbursable job costs.

As you are contemplating the above, also contemplate that well over 50% of the time, a review of the project records designated by the CM to be LS or not reimbursable indicates that credits are owed to reimbursable Cost of Work that would have not been discovered otherwise.

Demystifying Construction Progress Using Forensic Schedule Analysis

Odds are, if you have embarked on a construction project of any shape or size, you have heard the dreaded words, “There’s been a delay in the schedule.” Building in today’s climate has become almost synonymous with delays. Maybe your contractor insists that everything is on track, but you are observing consistent slippage in critical activities over time. The reality of construction in the K-12 industry is there is no time for hidden delays or surprises—the school calendar demands accuracy and completion with little room for schedule adjustments. If your instinct is telling you progress is behind, but you can’t quite prove it, HPM has the solution for you.

Half-Step Period Analysis

Half-Step Period Analysis can help reveal what is going on under the surface of a construction schedule. This method stores schedule updates and quantifies the impact, whether good or bad, of field progress on a schedule at large. Conveniently for the user, this approach collects the progress information from a new update to the schedule and applies only that piece of information to the prior schedule. The schedule is then recalculated and the impact on progress can be observed and analyzed. At this point, you will find answers to your most pressing questions: Did the end date move? Did the critical path change? How will our plans be impacted? Once this data is calculated, it can easily be mapped out in a visual format for further analysis.

schedule

What Next?

Now that we have proof that slippage has occurred, we can begin studying the updated critical path. Reviewing the schedule changes provides insight into how the lost time will be recovered. Studying these adjustments spelled out on paper enables you to see if the changes are reasonable. Armed with this information, you are then prepared to discuss a plan of action with the contractor that will allow the project to truly remain on track.

Is This a Recognized Method of Schedule Analysis?

A recent project utilized this method to encourage schedule transparency with a contractor. This case used modularized construction, an approach in which main portions of the facility were fabricated like building blocks. This method demands that stages of progress build upon one another in order to move on to the next phase. In this instance, production of these “blocks” slipped behind by four months with significant delays to production. In spite of an obvious delay, the contractor maintained the position that the project was on track to reach its original completion date.

By applying half-step period analysis, data came together to prove gaps in the unaffected schedule the contractor was promising. Identifying these issues early in the project allowed for impactful remediation plans to be implemented, as well as identifying staffing needs well in advance of their respective start dates. This knowledge on the front end proved critical in today’s market where manpower can be difficult to acquire.

The Power of Period Analysis

When implemented early on in construction, period analysis can detect impacts to schedule before they occur. This data provides actionable information and a path forward. Using this knowledge, project teams can implement recovery plans and avoid critical delays.

The Business Case for K-12 Boundary Realignment

Depending on building operational needs and the district’s enrollment trends, K-12 districts often need a boundary realignment. Boundary changes should occur in areas that have experienced a shift in population or a shift in demographics within the population. Older neighborhoods begin to have more “empty nesters”. Other areas of the district may have vacant land that has begun to be built out. Some new construction areas might have more affordable housing ripe for families, whereas other new housing might be more suited for an older, less family-intensive group of homeowners.

Facility Planning

Understanding the details of student enrollment and the data that impacts the enrollment is critical to Facility Planning. Facility Planning must look at the story the data tells us:

Conditions – has the campus lived its useful life, and is it now cost-prohibitive to keep it open?

Adequacy – is each campus able to reach teaching and learning goals within its current state?

Capacity & Utilization – is each campus maintaining a balance of class size and maximizing the use of the campus?

Programs – are there program changes affecting the functional capacity?

If a campus or campuses can’t effectively support the educational delivery model, then the district must review the demographics, feeder patterns and program profiles and boundaries.

Boundary Realignment Solutions

We have seen districts add classroom wings to campuses for short-term solutions. These short-term solutions, however, create long-term impacts such as overcrowding cafeterias and too many lunch periods, packed hallways, insufficient parking lots and dismissal challenges, and unavailable gym space, in addition to hardships on staff and the increase in the facility’s operational maintenance costs.

Understanding your district’s enrollment and trends is critical to the overall boundary re-alignment analysis. Tracking students as a group or “cohort” over time enables a district to measure changes in student enrollment by grade. These observed trends will typically align with the other data sets, such as live births and macro-level social demographic trends. One common trend is the seemingly counterintuitive declining enrollments, even as your city or county is growing in population. Knowing the enrollment projections supports the facility planning at all campuses in addition to teacher staffing and operational needs.

As programs and enrollments change, a closer review of feeder patterns should be completed. Transportation and operational costs may have increased due to population shifts. Conditions, adequacy, and utilizations also support the efforts to alleviate overcrowding and assist you with balanced enrollment. Accommodations for new programs and learning opportunities will continue to be updated. This establishes the balance between all data sets and may lead your district to a much-needed boundary realignment.

Manor ISD’s Rise Academy Raises the Bar for Texas K12 Facilities

Grand Opening

Manor ISD’s best-in-class K-8 facility, Rise Academy, opened its doors to students for its inaugural school year in August. Acclaimed program management firm, HPM  provided quality control and preconstruction services and maintained schedule and budget compliance throughout construction.

About the Space

Manor ISD‘s $45 million Manor Rise Academy is a 116,000-square-foot school on a 40-acre campus on FM 973. State-of-the-art amenities and technology enhance the learning environment in every room. The school’s interior includes athletic facilities; a competition gym with seating for up to 500 people; a dedicated gymnasium for physical education classes; a large media center; two art rooms; three maker spaces; performing arts classrooms; and student collaboration areas. The campus will also house competition-level athletic fields, outdoor learning spaces and playgrounds.

 

“Education projects require strict scheduling oversight to ensure an on-track completion by the start of the school year, and I am proud of our team at HPM for its dedication to an on-time delivery for Manor ISD. We thank the school district for its invaluable support and collaboration during this project, and to our partners for ensuring success in the construction of these schools. As we move ahead on additional projects with the school district, we look forward to providing more quality program management services, expanding our footprint further into Manor.”

Ryan Austin, President, HPM

 

 

About Manor ISD

Manor ISD voters approved a $280 million bond package in November of 2019. The bond is focusing on projects to accommodate student growth. This includes addressing facility upgrades and improving transportation, security and technology within the district. It is one of the largest bond programs the district has initiated in its history. These increase capacity in the 9,500-student district, projected to grow by 2.5% to 5% annually for the next 10 years, according to district student enrollment projections. 

Greater Austin is one of the fastest-growing major metropolitan areas in the U.S. and was recently projected to surpass San Antonio in population size by 2040, according to the Texas Water Development Board. The population of Manor, located just 12 miles northeast of Austin, has grown by more than 160% since 2010. Manor ISD anticipates an additional 2,800 students over the next four years. A project of this scale required experienced and dedicated program manager to oversee the bond program.

Additional project partners for Rise Academy include ADM Architecture; Raba Kistner as geotechnical engineer; Civilitude as civil engineer; and Lee Lewis as the general contractor. 

K12 School District Leaders Attend HPM’s Executives Summit

HPM recently hosted the inaugural HPM Texas Education Executives Summit, a premiere event connecting executive leaders in K12 school districts to create unique strategies for navigating common challenges. The Summit, held November 1-3, 2023 at The JL Bar Ranch, provided the perfect backdrop for an elevated networking and educational experience. Leaders representing seven districts across the state were in attendance, along with national experts in finance, facilities planning, contract management/auditing and other fields impacting the K12 industry.

About the Event

Attendees gleaned valuable insight on approaches for successful bond planning and execution. Topics included strategies for maximizing bond dollars through comprehensive Planning, best practices for navigating bond elections, tips for developing and maintaining a master schedule. As a highlight, HPM President, Ryan Austin and Senior Vice President of Program Development, Greg Ellis led a discussion on capital program success, offering strategies for managing multiple contractors, efficient program controls strategies, managing delays such as materials availability, change orders and contract disputes. Most importantly, sessions were robust, reality based and designed to foster conversation.

The Summit concluded with a round table discussion of open-ended topics benefiting all attendees with a focus on methods for overcoming operational challenges. Outcomes of the discussion provided thought provoking ideas for participants to take back to their districts, as well as a framework for future Summit topics.

Why HPM?

HPM partners with K12 school districts to create and implement data-driven long range planning initiatives. This team of seasoned planning professionals is comprised of former educators turned facilities conditions and assessment experts. They frequently teach the essential practice of integrated planning into capital improvement programs. HPM’s continuous planning practices consistently yield efficiencies and savings to K-12 clients. In turn, every dollar within a bond program is utilized to its full potential. Learn more about HPM’s extensive resume managing large scale programs on behalf of K12 school districts.

Ready to discuss your next project?