During Dickinson Public Schools' budget input and development committee meeting Wednesday, members discussed the need to hire a construction manager at risk for the potential construction of a new high school.

Construction managers act as consultants during design and construction of buildings. They must deliver a project within a guaranteed maximum price, allowing for a higher level of cost control than the standard design, bid, build process.

One of the goals in hiring a construction manager would be to receive accurate estimates for the cost.

"It would just really be a big benefit," said Superintendent Shon Hocker. "It would help us fine-tune our numbers. The architect right now is just simply getting some pro bono estimations."

He added, "I think getting a construction manager on board earlier ... helps (the public) be part of our early work sessions that we're having right now."

Assistant Superintendent Keith Harris worried that hiring a construction manager before the public approves the bond to pay for the new school might look presumptuous.

"Is the public going to look and say 'wait a minute, you haven't even asked, you're just assuming that,'" he said. "We've got to be cautious of how we approach that as well, and be very open and honest and communicate why this made sense to do this. It wasn't being presumptuous. It was being in an effort to create the best package so that the public could make a decision on something concrete."

Hiring a construction manager prior to the approval of funding for the high school would pose other challenges as well.

Because the money for the project has yet to be approved, Assistant Superintendent Keith Harris suggested that the bid would have to include a contingency on the results of the bond. Hocker said part of the construction manager's job should be to provide assistance in passing the bond.

They also discussed the scenario in which the bond does not pass.

"There would have to be in that contracting negotiation," said Hocker, "what are the costs in the event that bond fails. We can run the bond again three months later, I believe, and if that fails, I think you have to wait a year."

Still, they must be prepared for a scenario in which the money is never approved. Hocker said that might mean splitting the school into two different schedules, bringing in more portable buildings or holding classes at Dickinson State University.

The motion to hire a construction manager was supported in the budget meeting and will be taken to the school board for a vote on Tuesday. If the board approves, the committee will move forward with the bidding and selection process. They hope to have someone selected by the Nov. 19 board meeting.