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5/15/19 Board talks construction, school repairs

Board talks construction, school repairs
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 5/15/19    
Reprinted with permission.

Here’s what the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education covered at the Tuesday, May 14, work session:

Lottery projects


Assistant Superintendent for Operations Todd Thorpe presented contracts for painting  and roof replacement, which will be funded by the N.C. Education Lottery.

For those who don’t know, a percentage of proceeds from the state lottery funds school construction across the state. Typically, this is $1 million to $2 million for ABSS annually.

This summer, part of that allocation will fund painting at South Mebane Elementary School, Eastlawn Elementary School, North Graham Elementary School, Ray Street Academy, Broadview Middle School and Sylvan Elementary School.

The board also approved a contract for engineering services needed to replace the roof of the chorus wing at Western Alamance High School.

Construction methods


In March, retired Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Jim Watson visited Burlington to give a presentation on three construction options for building a school:

  • Design-bid-build: This is the most common method. The school system selects an architect to design the project and puts it out to bid afterward. In more competitive markets, the bidding process can result in savings;
  • Design-build: In this case, the school system hires an architect and contractor who have formed a partnership. They’re given a budget and are expected to deliver the project within that budget. ABSS used this method with Elon Elementary School; and
  • Construction-manager-at-risk: The school system hires a construction manager to oversee construction. If the project goes over budget, the CM is responsible for paying the difference.


The board voted 6–1 for construction-manager-at-risk for ABSS’ two largest projects: the new high school, and renovations/additions to Southern Alamance High School. It chose the traditional design-bid-build method for the remaining bond projects.

One of the benefits Thorpe listed for construction-manager-at-risk is, since the construction company is involved in the design process, work may begin before the design is completed, allowing the school system to stay on target for the August 2023 grand opening of the new high school.

Board member Steve Van Pelt voted against construction-manager-at-risk, saying he wanted to do more research on design-build.

Strategic plan


ABSS’ five-year strategic plan spans from July 1, 2014, to this June 30.

With a little more than a month left, Superintendent Bruce Benson asked the board to approve a two-year extension.

“I feel strongly that there is still much work that needs to be done with items and desired outcomes associated with the current strategic plan,” he said. “And as such, and I’ve communicated this before, I’m asking the board to consider an extension of the current plan for two years with a little bit more focused target of what it is that we’re trying to improve with regard to outcomes, and what are the strategies that we’re going to use in order to get there.”

The current plan is based on six goals:

  • Exemplary classroom teaching and instructional leadership;
  • Master plan for specialized programs;
  • Written five-year facilities plan;
  • World-class teacher working conditions;
  • Compensation for building-level employees; and
  • Classroom and school supports.

The extended plan will combine goals four and five —World-class teacher working conditions and Compensation for building-level employees — into one goal focused on improving working conditions for all employees.

It also will refocus efforts to improve “student outcomes,” such as test scores and the district’s on-time graduation rate.

“So: an extended plan and, essentially, an extended effort,” Benson said.