School district hires local liaison for high school project

Citing a goal to involve Vashon contractors in the construction of the new Vashon High School, the Vashon Island School District has hired someone to assist locals in the process of bidding and working on the project.

Islander Oly Jensen was hired last month as the district’s local contractor and vendor liaison. According to his contract, Jensen will work with the project’s architects and general contractor to identify what aspects of construction are best suited to local participation. He will then create a plan to reach out to local subcontractors as well as vendors and other businesses and help them through the process of bidding their services.

Superintendent Michael Soltman said the new position is important in fostering Island participation in the project because many Islanders haven’t performed work on public works projects and will be unfamiliar with the rules and regulations surrounding the high school project.

“To expect them to respond without getting support to do it would set us up for failure,” he said. “I want to set us up for success.”

Soltman said off-Island subcontractors will likely construct the major components of the high school. In order to provide small-scale projects suited to Island workers, he said the district would bid some smaller components, such as interior woodwork, metal fabrication and benches, only on Vashon.

“We really see that the health of the community and the health of the school district is completely intertwined,” Soltman said. “To the extent that we can help with jobs and help with the economy here, it creates better circumstances for us.”

According to his contract, Jensen will receive $35 an hour for his work, for a maximum of $10,000 in compensation.

Soltman said it was too soon to know how involving local subcontractors would ultimately affect the cost of the project.

Jensen, who owned an off-Island construction manufacturing business for 25 years, said he was looking forward to helping locals get involved in the high school project. He said he has much experience with public work projects and emphasized that his goal is to create commerce on the Island.

“I want to do more than just provide education,” he said. “I want to end up with work on the Island.”


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