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August 28, 2001

For More Information, Contact:
Jamille Moens at (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that his “design-build” bill authorizing school districts to use a more streamlined process in building schools has been approved by the Legislature and now awaits the Governor’s signature.  Assembly Bill 1402 allows school districts to put together architectural services, engineering services, and construction services in a single package, called a “design-build” package, for large projects of $10 million or more.

“The design-build option eliminates some of the bureaucracy involved in building new schools, and ensures architects, engineers and construction contractors work together as a team to get schools built,” said Simitian.  “Over the next six years, nearly 700 schools will be built around the State, and this new law offers a common-sense process for building schools more quickly and more economically.”

Current law requires that school districts award construction contracts over $15,000 to the lowest responsible bidder.  Schools have typically been built using a “design-bid-build” method in which separate contracts are awarded for architectural services, for engineering services, and for construction.  In practice, this method sometimes sets up an adversarial relationship between the architect, engineer, and construction contractor and slows down construction.

The design-build process has previously been authorized for local governments, the State of California, California State University and University of California.  Public school districts are among the few governmental entities that do not have this authority.

“Given the challenges local districts face in bringing additional school facilities on line, I thought this was a useful tool that could have an immediate impact.  Adequate funding is a must, of course; but if we can help districts ‘spend smart’ as well as provide adequate resources, we’ll be that much better off,” said Simitian.

San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Floyd Gonella said, “This is exactly the kind of help we need from Sacramento – something that lets us make local choices, and makes our job a bit easier.”

Palo Alto School Board Member John Barton observed, “As a district with so much construction under way, Palo Alto is particularly aware of the kind of help Joe’s legislation provides.”

The “design build” streamlining provisions of Simitian’s AB 1402 are “an optional tool” for local districts.  “This additional option for districts,” said Simitian, “provides an important tool while maintaining local control.  That was my goal from the start.”

A similar bill was vetoed last year by Governor Gray Davis, but Simitian believes he has been successful in addressing the Governor’s concerns with previous design-build bills, and says he is “optimistic” that the Governor will sign this effort.