Jacobs Project Management to Oversee Massive Omaha School Project

By Aziza Jackson

OMAHA, Neb. — Jacobs Project Management has been awarded a contract for the Omaha Public Schools (OPS) Board of Education’s $409.9 million school construction project.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that the project includes the construction of five new schools, thanks to the OPS bond measure passed by voters in May.

Through the passage of the measure, OPS will reportedly be able to finance the construction of two high schools, one in northwest Omaha and one in south Omaha, two elementary schools in south Omaha, and one middle school in south Omaha.

OPS will continue to move forward with Phase 2 of its construction projects now that Jacobs has been awarded a contract as project manager.

“The district is currently working with Jacobs to develop the official construction timeline for the renovation and construction work ahead,” said OPS Spokeswoman Monique Farmer.

According to a FAQ website about the bond, the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee has overseen the Phase 1 bond program since it started and will continue to oversee the Phase 2 bond issue to ensure that the district stays within budget.

The website states that the $409.9 million bond will be distributed across the district for both renovation and new construction projects, with over $41 million going towards renovation projects at elementary schools, over $29 million going towards renovation projects at middle schools, and over $69 million going towards renovation projects at high schools, and an alternative school.

Included in those numbers are additions to be completed at Edison, Highland, Masters Pinewood and Spring Lake Magnet Elementary Schools and Lewis & Clark and Morton Magnet Middle Schools.

Over $42 million is being allocated to the construction of the two new elementary schools, over $42 million is being allocated to the new middle school, and over $184 million is being allocated to the two new high schools.

OPS enrolls over 52,000 students and is currently made up of 63 elementary schools, 12 middle schools, seven high schools, one virtual school and 13 alternative programs, according to its website.

Jacobs’ history with OPS reportedly dates back to 1999, when the company managed OPS’ $254 million bond issue. The company was reportedly paid $15.1 million, or 5.9 percent of the total $254 million authorized by voters, over the course of five years to coordinate construction projects and organize dozens of contractors as OPS’ bond program manager.

The Omaha World-Herald reported that for the 2014 Phase 1 program, Jacobs was paid $15.9 million, or 3.79 percent of the $421 million in bonds approved by voters, for a five-year contract that included them overseeing the design, construction and completion of those projects.

That Phase 1 project reportedly included both major and minor construction at 81 existing schools and alternative programs within the school district.

For Phase 2, the program manager will reportedly juggle a number of duties, including handling construction budgets, scheduling work, managing bids, inspecting construction and running an economic inclusion program that is intended to provide a more equal playing field for small and local contractors competing for work.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, Northwest and Bryan High, which opened in the 1970s, were the last to be built in the school district, making the new high school being built in Phase 2, the first new high school to be built in several decades.

Reports from the Omaha World-Herald, and information from the Omaha Public School District’s website contributed to this story.