Alternate Construction Delivery for K-12 Schools: Construction Manager At Risk | Shockey Builds

For school districts in Virginia and Maryland, construction delivery methods now include an option that, until recently, was only available in the private sector.

The traditional method for building a project in the public sector has been the design/bid/build model, where the construction award goes to the lowest responsive bidder. Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) procurement offers an alternative process where the builder is retained through a careful examination of best value.

Why consider CMAR?

What are the most significant advantages to a school district considering the CMAR approach for a school system?

  • Increased control
  • More cost confidence

With the CMAR delivery method, the owner chooses the construction manager based on qualifications, expertise, and best value (rather than simply accepting the low bid).  The construction manager agrees to deliver the contractual project scope for no greater than a guaranteed maximum price (GMP).

Both public and private sector have embraced this alternative project delivery method and its team-first approach.

Several Virginia school districts have been early adopters of the CMAR model; among them is Loudoun County Public Schools, one of the fastest-growing school districts in the nation.


“Colleges and universities have been doing this for years. We just haven’t had the legislative ability. Now we do.” – Gary VanAlstyne, Director of Construction Services, Loudoun County Public Schools


Gary VanAlstyne, the Director of Construction Services for Loudoun County Public Schools, says that CMAR is best suited for projects that have potential to change in scope, as well as projects that can benefit from early CM involvement, such as those involving potential issues with logistics, cost estimating and constructability. Renovation projects are a particularly good match because there can be so many unforeseen issues, and mechanisms to address them can be transparently included in the GMP.

CMARs typically participate in the design process to predict and resolve constructability problems, as well as to address budget, schedule and the impact of material and equipment availability issues.

“But with repeat work, such as a school prototype where the design product is well known, then the low-bid scenario is often the best fit,” adds VanAlstyne.

The contractor is able to review the plans to determine if they contain problems that can be avoided by changing them before actual construction starts.

“If you shut down a job site — even for one day — to solve an issue, that can be expensive,” says VanAlstyne about the pitfalls of the traditional low-bid process.

VanAlstyne adds that with CMAR there is often a bigger time investment up front, but the pay off can comes with a shorter and smoother construction schedule, an improved product and an overall better value for the Owner.

Learn More

When Shockey acts as your CMAR, we function as your consultant during preconstruction and as the equivalent of a general contractor during the construction phase. We take on the budget risk and provide nonstop advisory project management, all while agreeing to a guaranteed maximum price. We are responsible for timely completion of the project and we hold the risk of cost overruns associated with the contractual scope of work if the guaranteed maximum price is exceeded.

If your school district has a complex project with a tight time schedule ahead, and you are interested in a more collaborative delivery process, please contact Brad Bolyard for more information.