District moving forward with plans for old Southeast High

Students are seen at the old Southeast High School during an orientation day in 2015.
Students are seen at the old Southeast High School during an orientation day in 2015. File photo

Wichita school district leaders are moving forward with plans to convert the former Southeast High School at Lincoln and Edgemoor into the district headquarters building.

School board members on Monday will consider a plan called construction at-risk management procurement, which the district used for the first time for the construction of the new Southeast High.

The process, an alternative to the typical construction bid process, allows districts to hire a construction manager by negotiation, before the design is complete and without competitive bidding at the prime level.

The board will hear a presentation on the plan Monday and could vote to use the option to convert the former Southeast High into the new location for the Alvin E. Morris Administrative Center.

A public notice scheduled to be published in The Eagle on Saturday says members of the public wishing to address the board on the topic should do so at Monday’s meeting.

If board members approve the proposal, they would set a timeline for the process and decide who would be on the interview team to select a construction manager.

For most previous bond projects – all but the new Southeast High at 127th Street East and Pawnee – Wichita has used a traditional design-bid-build process: An architect drafts plans and specifications, and contractors bid for the project. The lowest responsible bidder is awarded the project.

Under the construction manager at-risk method, the design and construction phases overlap a bit, similar to most private-sector construction: The district would select a construction management at-risk firm that functions as the general contractor. Various parts of the project are bid during the construction process, after the construction manager gives the district a controlled-budget price.

Industry experts say advantages include a faster construction schedule, better coordination among architects, engineers and contractors, and the ability to more effectively handle changes in a project’s design or scope.

In 2014, the district selected Dondlinger Construction as the construction manager for the new Southeast High School, the largest project of the 2008 bond issue. Dondlinger was chosen over four other construction firms that applied for the work and made pitches to a district committee.

When board members voted to build a new high school at 127th Street East and Pawnee, they pledged to consolidate district offices at the old Southeast as well as to negotiate with Wichita Area Technical College to locate some of its programs there.

In December 2014, the district sold its downtown administration building, 201 N. Water, to developer David Burk, who said he plans to turn the building into loft apartments. Officials say they plan to use proceeds from the sale, as well as capital outlay funds, to finance the renovation of the former Southeast High.

When Southeast High students start school, they will be at a new $68 million building at 127th Street East and Pawnee, the first new comprehensive high school to open in Wichita in nearly four decades. (August 2016)

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias