Education / Schools

Gavilan trustees OKs cost limit for San Benito County campus

The project has gone up $2.29 million since the contractor was selected in 2020.

At their Dec. 13 meeting the Gavilan College Board of Trustees approved the guaranteed maximum price (GMP) of $43,824,685 for the San Benito County Campus. This price, which is the limit a contractor can charge for work, includes two items of additional scope: a septic system and roadway construction of Cielo Vista extension and associated utility work.

Measure X, a $248 million bond measure, authorized the district to upgrade infrastructure including renovations to the library, new buildings for the science, computer and technology labs, and repairs to classrooms. It allocated $52 million for permanent classrooms and labs in San Benito County at the corner of Fairview Road and Hwy 25. 

The first phase will include constructing a maintenance and operations building; adding portable classrooms for labs and career technical education; developing open space parking nearby; and potentially establishing a retail site. Any additional plans for Fairview Corners beyond Phase One construction would require more funding through another bond, according to statements from former Gavilan College President Kathleen Rose at a May 10, 2018, San Benito County Business Council meeting.

Gavilan College President Pedro Avila told BenitoLink the first phase is a total of eight classrooms, four of which are dedicated to STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) curriculum with labs, and the other four dedicated to general education.

According to the agenda packet, the GMP amount is $2,294,438 greater than the amount in the cost proposal dated Oct. 1, 2020, because of the added scope of work and a 1.7% increase in construction costs from the original program budget developed three years ago.

“The 1.7% increase in construction cost is significantly less than the almost 20% increase (per Associated General Contractors) in construction costs that the industry has seen since 2020,” the report states.

The document added that Gavilan had approval to tie into the Hollister sewer infrastructure “which was later rescinded, thus the need to design and install a septic system.”

Work on Cielo Vista that was once designed to be a cost share with home developer Dividend Homes was initially expected to be completed when work on the campus began, the agenda report stated. It added that Gavilan now anticipates this work will take place concurrently with the San Benito County Campus project. Blach Construction will build the road to a point just east of the Fairview Road intersection.

Damon Felice of Felice Consulting Services, which is managing the campus construction, was asked at the meeting about the status of the septic versus sewer hookup. 

“Nothing has changed right now,” Felice said. “We are moving forward with the septic system. With some changes in the city [a new mayor], that may change, but that’s to be determined at this time. So right now, the plan is to move forward with a separate system.”

Avila asked Felice if there’s a window for when the school will decide to go with a septic tank if the city does not provide a sewer connection.

“It’s a rough estimate,” Felice said, ‘but I think a year from today. I think in the worst-case scenario, if we’re looking at a fall of 2024 occupancy, that’s about as far as we want to push it.”

The breakdown of the  GMP budget is as follows (see PDF for complete proposal):

  • 3% construction contingency: $1,012,989
  • Owner’s allowance: $1,900,000 (money designated to cover all the decisions that the owner has yet to inform client of)
  • Allowance 1: Division of State Architect changes, which oversees design and construction oversight: $700,000
  • Allowance 2: finish selections, $100,000
  • Allowance 3: unforeseen market escalation, $200,000

All of these allowances and contingencies revert back to the college if not used.


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Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.