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Morgan Hill
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September 26, 2023

New construction firm for Sobrato High

Sobrato High School is now in the hands of Turner Construction
Co., after the Morgan Hill School Board voted 5-2 Monday night to
select Turner as the construction management firm for the
Sobrato High School is now in the hands of Turner Construction Co., after the Morgan Hill School Board voted 5-2 Monday night to select Turner as the construction management firm for the project.

“The committee looked at three areas,” Trustee George Panos said Monday night. “Budget, relationships – real and perceived – and interface … the consensus was that the committee recommend Turner.”

A committee, chaired by Panos, recommended the selection of Turner to the board.

“My first concern is that the community has lost trust in Jacobs,” Trustee Jan Masuda said Monday. “And perception equals reality … the difference in cost is not a deal breaker to me.”

Jacobs Facilities is the company contracted by the district to build Barrett Elementary, renovate Live Oak High and originally build Sobrato.

Sobrato is scheduled to open in fall 2004. A groundbreaking ceremony took place Oct. 18. Plans for the high school have been scaled back to 173,902 square-feet to accommodate 1,500 students at an estimated cost of $76 million instead of the 2,500 originally intended. The school had been planned for 186,000 square-feet.

Trustee Del Foster said although he would vote for the recommendation, Turner would not have been his choice.

“I have come to a different conclusion than the committee, but I will vote with the committee, respecting their investigation,” he said.

Foster also referred to the perception of the community.

“Unfortunately, Jacobs got caught in the crossfire,” he said. “I am fairly confident this (decision) will result in a cost increase, actually.”

Board President Tom Kinoshita said he agreed with Foster.

“I, like Mr. Foster, may have voted differently,” he said. “But we have a process, and I will honor that process. There is the issue of perception, which is unfortunately a reality.”

The lack of trust mentioned by board members became apparent after numerous cost overruns associated with he construction of Barrett Elementary.

Final construction costs of Barrett have not been released; however, the costs to date have been approximately $19.5 million. The guaranteed cost given by Jacobs to the board in February 2001 was $16.8 million. The school opened one year after originally scheduled, causing a mini-Barrett campus to be created at Paradise Elementary and some families to have children in more than one elementary school.

The School Board decided to look more closely at Jacobs when another milestone was reached in its contract. In October, trustees directed district staff to issue a request for proposals (RFP). Proposals were received from several construction firms, and an interview committee made a recommendation to the board at the Nov. 18 board meeting to renew Jacobs’ contract. The previous board voted 3-3 on renewal, which in effect meant the motion was defeated.

A special meeting was held Jan. 9 to learn more about the two companies, and the new board agreed to form a committee to interview the top two contenders for the construction management position, Jacobs and Turner Construction.

Turner gave a project cost estimate for Sobrato, dated Feb. 1, of $69,801,693. Jacobs, the firm that has handled the design of the high school so far, gave a Feb. 1 estimate of $73,020,957 for a “design build” approach. The construction manager-at-risk, or CM-at-risk, approach cost was estimated Jan. 6 to be $69,069,596.

The design build risk fee, according to consultant James Black, hired by the district to compare the two firms, “includes the cost of … architectural redesign if required, delays, labor disputes, claims and cost of legal defense … which protects the district against cost increase for those covered services.”

The CM-at-risk approach does not include this risk fee.

The selection committee, which was appointed by Panos, included Trustees Shellé Thomas and Amina Khemici, Superintendent Carolyn McKennan, Deputy Superintendent Bonnie Branco and Black.

Black recommended the formation of the committee to individually interview the two firms in order to make a decision.

The district, which has had its ninth graders – high school freshmen – at the middle schools for 23 years, has been studying the idea of a second comprehensive high school almost as long. The plan is to move ninth graders from the two middle schools to the high schools.

The majority of funding for Sobrato comes from the $72 million bond issue, Measure B, approved by voters in June 1999 to renovate Live Oak and build a new elementary school and the new high school.

The common areas, or infrastructure, of the new school, which will be located in south San Jose until the city of Morgan Hill annexes the property, will be built for a future enrollment of 2,500 students. Classroom size has been scaled back to 1,500 students.

Some features of the school design include a state-of-the-art theater, a gymnasium with a rolldown divider that creates two smaller gyms and at the center of the campus, a library with a wall of windows overlooking a student amphitheater.

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