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OAC Hired as Bond Project Manager

The Centralia School District Board of Directors voted unanimously on March 29th to approve the hiring of OAC Services as Project Manager for the district’s upcoming bond construction projects. The approval comes after the recommendation of the company by Superintendent Mark Davalos and members of the Project Manager Search Committee. The hiring is part of the process that started with voter approval of a $74 million general obligation bond proposal in February.  As project manager, OAC will be tasked with keeping the three projects on time, on target, and on budget. They will also oversee financial management and compliance with all applicable regulations.

“They really want to serve us well and they have a lot of great ideas and questions,” said Superintendent Mark Davalos. “We had a one hour meeting scheduled for Tuesday and it ended up running for close to three. Our relationship with OAC is off to a great start,” he said.

“Given the scope of our projects and the fact that we really haven’t experienced this type of work in our District in over three decades, I felt it was necessary to recommend to the Board that we hire an experienced project manager,” Davalos said. “We really don’t have the capacity in a district our size to do this work ourselves, despite having very talented directors and staff, we all have full-time jobs and then some,” he said. “This partnership will help us make sure we are fully and efficiently maximizing the investment our community has made.”  The district received 9 “really outstanding” qualifications packets from interested applicants, and 5 were selected for interviews with the committee.

OAC has strong local ties. Principal Dan Chandler graduated from Centralia High School in 1976. Senior Associate Kasey L. Wyatt is a member of the CHS class of 1993. Both expressed excitement about the opportunity to come back to Centralia to help make improvements that will serve many future generations. “I’m proud to be here to help out,” said Chandler as he introduced his team.  

Wyatt will be the head project manager for Centralia, working closely with district staff. “Having the opportunity to work with Centralia is something that been on our radar, both Dan and I, for as long as we have been with OAC. We’re both very connected to the community and very passionate about education. This is a dream opportunity for us to serve this opportunity and to show our skills in K-12 planning and construction,” she said.

Wyatt said that the next steps include putting together detailed estimates, strategies, and timings for the projects. They will also be working to launch the design phase for the new schools within the next several months. “We are currently starting to solicit architecture and design firms,” she said.

Local ties aside, OAC has a very impressive catalog of successfully completed projects. They have overseen large projects in Pullman, Tacoma, Clover Park, and other districts around the state.

The district is pressing ahead with the work to get each project started. D. A. Davidson will be overseeing the first round of bond sales on May 9th in Seattle. “The urgency of the bond campaign wasn’t just about getting the funding in place,” said Davalos. “We want to move forward with improving and replacing these school buildings so that we can continue our work to improve outcomes in Centralia.”

Voters approved a $74 million bond package in February. The funding from the bond will finance the complete renovation of Centralia High School into a “like-new” building. Jefferson Lincoln and Fords Prairie Elementary schools will each be replaced by new facilities with capacities of 525 students each. Upon completion of the two new schools, all elementary schools in the district will transition to K-6 neighborhood school facilities.  With an estimated $27 million available from the state in matching funds, the total available budget for the projects is approximately $101 million.