PROJECT COST: $292 Million

Buffalo Public Schools Program ensures all district schools achieve the same technology, energy and infrastructure standards.

Buffalo Public Schools Reconstruction Program Phase IV
Photo: LPCiminelli
Buffalo Public Schools Reconstruction Program Phase IV

Buffalo Public Schools and LPCiminelli of Buffalo began working at the end of last year on phase IV of a comprehensive school reconstruction program, designed to transform every facility in the district into 21st-century learning centers of excellence. Ten schools will receive upgrades during the three-year, $292 million fourth phase.

When program manager LPCiminelli began the $1.4 billion program in 2002, the district's schools averaged 70 years of age and most were in need of significant modernization. The Legislature-created intermunicipal Joint Schools Construction Board selected LPCiminelli to design, finance and build the program, entirely funded by state-paid, tax-exempt School Facility Revenue Bonds.

Phase I renovated nine schools, phase II 13 schools and phase III nine schools. In addition, LPCiminelli completed district-wide technology and energy upgrades, such as installing interactive white boards in every classroom and security cameras in public areas and upgrading HVAC, lighting and window systems with energy-efficient products.

"We've worked to provide equity among all of the schools," says Bill Mahoney, vice president of LPCiminelli.

LPCiminelli bids about one school per month, using a competitive process. It planned to open bids in April for 14 prime contracts for the $40 million, 10-phase, 225,000-sq-ft Mc- Kinley High School renovation and 40,000-sq-ft addition. The project, designed by Cannon Design of Grand Island, includes renovations to the machine shops and an aquatic laboratory and building a 10,000-sq-ft greenhouse addition for the horticulture program.

"We will go in and gut the entire building and leave the perimeter walls and some primary corridor walls," Mahoney says.

LPCiminelli signed an Occupational Safety and Health Administration partnership agreement and a project-labor agreement. Open-shop and union contractors work on the schools.

The company will solicit bids for four more schools this year. LPCiminelli has broken the larger projects into about 14 contracts, such as dry wall, steel, paint and general trades to improve control and enable more firms to participate.

The school renovation program includes an aggressive goal of 25% minority and 5% women participation and a workforce goal of 23% minorities and 7% women. Through phase III, the company had exceeded the minority and women business goal, letting 35% of the contracts to minority contractors and 11.4% to women-owned businesses.

LPCiminelli has mentored minority and women-owned companies and engaged high-school students, interesting them in the construction industry through curriculum enrichment programs.

"When we are done after phase V, we will have created a more diverse union workforce as well as a more diverse contracting community for future projects in Western New York, Mahoney says.

Construction on phase IV is scheduled to end in the summer of 2012. Phase V, with seven schools, is currently in design. When the entire program is completed, 48 schools will have received modernizations.

Key Players

Owner: Joint Schools Construction Board, Buffalo, N.Y.
Construction Manager: LPCiminelli, Buffalo, N.Y.
Strategic Plan Architect: Cannon Design, Grand Island, N.Y.