Return to Headlines

Pueblo-Based Firms to Play Important Role in Building of New East, Centennial

Aerial of the new East High School Aerial of the new Centennial High School










With taxpayer-approved bond funds, the district will build a new East High School for $69 million and a new Centennial High School for $67 million.

Those Guaranteed Maximum Prices were revealed by Bob Lawson, Executive Director of Facilities and Construction Management, to the Pueblo School District 60 board of education earlier this week.

The cost to build the two state-of-the-art schools was determined by GE Johnson and H.W. Houston Construction, the project contractors, through a review of construction drawings and blueprints and the pricing out of subcontracting work.

As the name indicates, the Guaranteed Maximum Price assures the district that the contractors will build the two new buildings for the specified amount, and not higher.

The district, however, retains the right to initiate changes in the design that could potentially affect that final price.

Of note, about 60 percent of the subcontracting will be done by Colorado-based companies, with Pueblo firms handling 45 percent of the work.

“Eighty percent of the Pueblo contractors who did bid on the projects were accepted by GE Johnson and H.W. Houston,” Mr. Lawson told the board. “This is a large amount of local participation in these projects, as many areas of the planned work are in specialty types of services that do not exist in Pueblo.”

From H.W. Houston Construction, Louis Nazario told the board he was a member of the pre-construction team that determined the Guaranteed Maximum Price of the two buildings.

“Our team did a great job advertising and getting the word out to the Pueblo community,” Mr. Nazario said. “We wanted to make sure that everybody who wanted the opportunity to bid on the project did so. And although some of the scope of work is too large for some of our local Pueblo subs, we did receive a great amount of local participation.

“As Bob mentioned, 80 percent of the subs who submitted bids are going to be part of the team: specifically on some of the major trades like electrical, mechanical, earthwork, glazing, and metal paneling. This obviously employs a ton of local labor and we’re very happy to be able to keep our Pueblo subcontractors happy.”

David Horner, the district’s Chief Financial Officer, reminded the board that the original estimate to build the two new high schools were in excess of $151 million.

As originally proposed, the schools would offer capacity for 1,000 students and either an auxiliary gym or a performing arts auditorium. 

“In response to the school community, we have been able to include with this GMP package a design for 1,100 students at each school and both a gym and auditorium,” Mr. Horner said. “We also are able to include within the construction budget a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system that dramatically improves air quality for our staff and students and is highly energy efficient.”

Along with the GMP, the board approved an additional $9 million in bond funds – the result of cost savings on other bond projects and premiums gained through the bond sale – toward the two projects.

The board also accepted a low bid from Office Scapes to furnish the new buildings: $1.2 million for Centennial and $1.1 million for East. 

Both Mr. Horner and Mr. Lawson will continue to oversee the construction. By keeping this important responsibility “in-house,” the district was able to save taxpayer dollars that would have been expended in hiring an outside manager.

Acknowledging the fact that the construction projects will see a host of Pueblo-based labor employed, D60 Board Member Judge Dennis Maes said, “It was this wonderful community that gave us the opportunity to build these state-of-the-art schools and I am extremely pleased that in every instance we could have possibly had to employ our own people from Pueblo, it’s been done.”

Added Board Member Tommy Farrell, “As I was going through the documents I was excited to see so many subcontractors whose names I recognized. So thank you for all the effort that went in to make sure Pueblo businesses and Southern Colorado businesses had an opportunity to bid.”

A groundbreaking for the new schools is slated for late March.