P3 schools are on time and on budget, but process not without pressure

As originally seen in Saskatoon Star Phoenix thestarphoenix.com

The future home of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic School and a so-far unnamed public school, they’re two of 18 new schools under construction across the province through a $635 million public-private partnership (P3).

A consortium of companies known as the Joint-Use Mutual Partnership (JUMP) has been selected to build and maintain the schools over the next 30 years. Labelled as 21st century learning spaces, they’re meant to address overcrowding in classrooms as the province works to accommodate a growing population.

On time, on budget

Working for JUMP head Concert Infrastructure Ltd., Ian Podmore is the design and construction lead with the JUMP consortium. He said all projects across the province are on track.

“Each of the sites are going very, very well and we’re quite confident that we’ll be ahead of schedule, or on schedule, come opening day,” he said.

This is welcome news for Education Minister Don Morgan.

“We made a commitment to the public that these schools would be open for September of 2017. So we’re pleased that the partners have worked well (and) that JUMP has done everything that they need to do to try and ensure that happens,” Morgan said.

“What we’re hoping for is continued good weather for the construction season and we’re fully confident that come September 2017, there will be students in this space.”

Pressure’s on

While the projects are on track to be completed for September 2017, the finish line is a long way off, but it’s a race Podmore said his crews are ready to run.

“There’s always pressure with projects like this,” he said. “Any time you have a guaranteed fixed price, fixed delivery of this many schools on this tight of a time frame, there’s obviously a lot of stress. But, with that, there’s also a lot of challenges, learning curves and all in all it’s a very positive experience to work on these jobs. Not just for myself, but for the rest of the team.”

Taking shape

Podmore said Concert Infrastructure has been working with school divisions to ensure the schools take the shape desired by administration and educators.

“We’ve been in extensive design engagement all the way from when we were selected as the proponent, through to now,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re here to give the schools that the school divisions want.”

Podmore said he hopes the end result will be embraced by educators and the community. “The reality is, these schools will be open and ready and they’ve had a huge amount of input from the school divisions, so I would suspect that they will be very well received.”

Progressive learning

The new schools will come equipped with modern learning spaces, including breakout spaces and outdoor learning facilities, all designed so student populations can “ebb and flow” throughout, Podmore said.

“The breakout space can serve as its own teaching area, or the classroom can serve as its own teaching area; every wing is a little different.”

Neal Lade, project director with Bird-Wright Construction, part of the JUMP consortium responsible for the project’s design-build requirements, said the fact the schools will create 810 childcare spaces across the province is unique. “That’s a key component in these schools,” he said.

Exciting time for students

Morgan, who travelled inside the site for the first time during a recent tour, said he has seen the schools in the form of mock-ups and drawings, but to be inside was a different experience.

“To actually come in and walk it, then you get a sense of the scale of the buildings and you get a sense that this is where children are going to be. Children are going to be running up and down these hallways, children are going to be in these classrooms and children are going to be learning,” he said.

“To me, it’s sort of the reality of where we’re going. You’re starting to get a real taste and having a real look at the reality of what’s coming.”

Morgan said his ministry is “really pleased” with the progress made on the project and while he’s not sure if this is the same model future schools will be built on, it’s something to be examined.

“It worked really well here because we wanted to (do) a lot of them at once,” he said. “To do one or two schools in a year, you would probably use traditional builds, but when you’re trying to do a catch-up where we’ve had the rapid growth, it certainly has lent itself to being a really good tool.”
P3 Schools Are On Time And On Budget, But Process Not Without Pressure : News & Media : Bird Construction