School district wants to familiarize local contractors with upcoming building projects

08/17/2014 7:01 PM

08/17/2014 7:02 PM

The Merced City School District is reaching out to local contractors to get them involved in a large number of construction projects ranging from the ongoing $6 million expansion of Rivera Middle School to the $130 million effort to modernize all campuses over the next 10 to 20 years.

A Contractors and Vendors Outreach Workshop is planned Aug. 27 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Rivera Middle School, 645 Buena Vista Drive, Merced. It is hoped 30 to 50 local contractors and vendors will be involved, according to Ken Testa, the district’s director of facilities.

“We want to make the process as streamlined as possible,” Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran said. “We want to make sure it’s clear what’s expected.”

Testa said voter passage of Measure M in June gave the district opportunities to nurture local contractors and strive to develop relationships and partnerships with contractors to provide quality work and stretch limited funding as far as possible.

Adam Cox has a dual perspective on the issue. He’s a member of the district’s Board of Education and has been the executive director of the Builders Exchange of Merced-Mariposa for 2 1/2 years.

“One of my concerns as a board member is the community allowed us to spend $60 million,” Cox said. “We want to pump it back into the local economy. Our job is to invest money back into local contractors. It’s important to reach out and make it easier for them to deal with the government.”

Cox said the district has the ability to create bidding packages that are locally accessible, structuring them to an appropriate size for local contractors.

Testa said a very important aspect of serving the community and the district’s best interests is communicating capital facility improvement needs with local contractors bidding on public works projects.

Board member Gene Stamm said local contractors don’t have the bonding capacity to bid on large construction projects. The private sector here doesn’t have a big union presence, and state law requires contractors to pay prevailing wages.

The workshop will include an introduction of district staff, a review of key contact information, an overview of the district’s recently adopted Long Range Facilities Master Plan and the scope of Measure M, which is part of a $130 million plan to upgrade safety, security, infrastructure and technology, along with modernizing all district campuses.

The first construction project in line is the conversion of Rivera Middle School to become a kindergarten through eighth-grade school. That $6 million effort will add three elementary classroom wings, a new shared administration building and other improvements at the Buena Vista Drive campus. It uses up the last of Measure S bond funds approved 10 years ago.

Greg Spicer, associate superintendent for administrative services, said the district is striving to reach out to local contractors to prequalify if possible to bid on future construction projects or at least understand the bidding system.

“We want to give local companies the information they need to feel they can participate over the next several years, especially on the Rivera project,” Spicer said.

Testa said Kate Kurey of Kurey and Associates Labor Compliance Consulting Service of Stockton will be on hand to make a brief presentation on bidding procedures and offer basic information and strategic advice.

“We want to take the worry, fear and complexity out of bidding on public works projects,” Testa said.

Testa said the workshop will include an overview of the requirements for contractors to submit prequalification applications if interested in bidding on projects estimated to exceed $1 million or more.

Applications are available online at the district’s website, www.mcsd.k12.ca.us, or by contacting Tania Masseroni of the district’s Facilities Services Department at (209) 385-6694. Contractors interested in attending the outreach workshop are asked to make reservations by Saturday.

“The MCSD is highly aware of the impact educational facilities and the learning environment make on both students and staff in delivering a high-quality educational program,” Testa said. “The MCSD governing board has expressed a keen interest in working closely with local contractors in partnerships to improve facility conditions districtwide.”

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