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Lakewood board reaching consensus on new school

HEBRON – A consensus appeared to be emerging after a nearly three-hour Lakewood School Board facilities workshop Wednesday evening. It was the first full group discussion since February 1.

Superintendent Mary Kay Andrews presented an updated list of capital improvement priorities and now escalated costs for work to be done in 2020. The 2017 costs were increased six percent for 2020 based on Legat Architects’ recommendations. Legat’s Paul Garland, AIA and Dennis Paben were at the meeting. Garland said after several flat years construction costs increased about three percent in the last year. They doubled it to come up with the 2020 estimate.

Andrews said the top priority is a new elementary to replace the 105-year old Hebron Elementary. The projected cost of a new K-5 one-story school that would extend partially onto the 16.5 acres of farmland purchased late last year is $33,022,349. The cost to build an additional access drive along the western property line from U.S. 40 via the middle school drive is now $90,061.

Andrews said there’s a new idea about building a pole barn structure for the bus garage/maintenance shop on the new campus. “I would prioritize it low,” she added. The maintenance shop is currently in Jackson A (building closest to Lancer Road). Some plans call for Jackson A to be demolished to make way for an additional parking lot for athletics. If that happens, maintenance would need a new home, Andrews acknowledged. There are several options including space at the high school, she said.

Board member Bill Gulick said a new bay, with a bus lift, could be added to current bus garage for about $1.138 million, including $120,000 for paving the bus lot with heavy duty asphalt. Kyle Mathews, the district’s new Director of Facilities and Maintenance, called that plan, “It’s kind of like putting lipstick on a pig.” He called the bus garage a “deadend” facility, adding that it will be very costly to remove another unused building on the site.

The district currently has $1 million in its capital improvement fund and plans to add $500,000 a year for the next two years, District Treasurer Glenna Plaisted said. Contributions beyond that depend on the district’s finances.

Project priorities at the middle school (former high school) have been reordered into four levels. The first level priorities with 2020 estimated costs are:

• Install HVAC and ducted system – $2,419, 408;

• Install fire suppression system – $221,967; and

• Lay in ceiling and sound control – $247,684.

Second level priorities are:

• Auditorium renovation to music classrooms – $174,000;

• Media center expansion – $190,800;

• Replace roofing, coping and add insulation – $805,858; and

• Engineering and art labs renovation – $112,324.

Third level priorities are:

• Loose furnishings – $200,949 (2017 cost estimate);

• Electrical improvements to classrooms – $345,708;

• Interior finishes and casework – $702,006; and

• Programmable exterior doors – $31,694.

Fourth level priorities are:

• Back recess area resurfaced – $61,851.

The four projects at the high school are all on the same level:

• Replace roof and add insulation – $1,158,044;

• Electrical improvement to classrooms – $156,528;

• Innovation center, art & media renovation – $238,500; and

• Technology improvements – $113,798.

Paben said the auditorium/media center projects at the middle school are ready to bid. Board member Bill Pollard said that wasn’t a reason to elevate a second level priority in front of the new elementary school. The plans/bid documents will still be good in a couple more years, he added. Board member Jon Lynch asked why roofing repairs were top priority at the high school, but just second level at the middle school.

Board member Tara Houdeshell brought the discussion back to the elementary school. “What elementary concept do we want?” she asked. “I think the elementary concept drives everything,” Andrews added.

Gulick asked about the cost difference between a one and two story plans. “It was minimal,” Paben said. The cost premium for a one-story plan was less than two percent after including disability access issues, including an elevator, for a two-story plan. “I would use the same number (for both plans),” Paben advised.

Lynch said he preferred a one-story plan for safety issues among others. Andrews added that a one-story plan has some academic advantages.

Lynch added that he is most concerned about the Certificate of Participation (COPs) payments of $332,000 per year for the COPs supplement to the planned bond issue. He noted the district has already committed to an annual $280,000 COPs payment for the next nine years to pay for the new stadium.

He suggested looking again at combining Jackson A and B into a K-5 school. We could do it without COPs, Lynch added. “I would rather see more go on the bond than do a Certificate of Participation,” Plaisted said.

Gulick said half the classrooms in Jackson A are interior and don’t have windows. He said the new building concept would have more open classrooms with natural light.

“The goal here is to get a ‘yes’ (vote on the bond issue) out of the gate,” Andrews said. “I’m not worried about interior classrooms at Jackson A.” That prompted a more detailed discussion about combining both Jacksons into a single K-5 building.

Paben noted that there is a 14-16 grade elevation difference between the two buildings. “It’s to rigid pieces of architecture to tie into,” he added. “There are extraordinary educational challenges with this plan. We’re at ‘what do you want this project to be’ stage.” Paben said a Pre K-5 school needs two playgrounds – one for Pre K – 1 and another for 2 -5. There aren’t obvious locations for them in the combination. He said it could be done for $27 million.

Lynch asked Jackson principal Carol Fields and teacher Rebecca Hayes for their thoughts. “This feels like a big band-aid,” Hayes responded. “How much will it cost to educate our kids for two years during the construction.”

Paben said it cost Newark High School $2-2.5 million for modular buildings during its two-year major renovation.

Andrews asked Transporta tion Director Rodney Stufflebean about the ODOT traffic survey for a possible traffic light at U. S. 40 and Lancer Road. One survey was done last fall and another will be done this spring, he said. Though the details have not been released by ODOT, he’s hearing that the counts weren’t high enough to justify a traffic light. “I’m hearing that they will live with one hour (backed up traffic) in the morning and one hour in the afternoon.”

Board president Steve Thorp then backed away from his earlier preference for a Pre K-2 school. “Let’s build a new Pre K – 5 school and demo both Jacksons. I think Jackson A is more structurally sound that B.” That would get the district down to three buildings to maintain, he added. “We’ve got to get the kids out of Hebron,” Thorp continued. “It’s our #1 priority.”

Houdeshell wanted to come up with the new totals. The financing package rejected in January by Lynch, Pollard and Thorp totaled $41.8 million ($33.9 million bond issue, $2.0 million capital improvement fund contribution and $5.9 million in COPs financing). Houdeshell noted that some $3 million of projects included in that $41.8 million total now are a lower priority. Mathews and Stufflebean said they would prefer to wait for a new facility. “We can make due with what we’ve got,” Stufflebean said.

Houdeshell said the criticism she’s heard in the community was the lumping in everything else on the elementary school project.

Lynch thought a new Pre K-5 school and the top priorities which include the high school and middle school roofs now total around $37 million.

“We’re a better board after we educated ourselves,” he explained. “We have vetted it out… We have answered a lot of the questions.”

As the workshop session approached the three-hour mark, Andrews struggled to get participants focused on one discussion at a time. The discussion will continue in two weeks with another session set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, in the high school library. Legat will update the three-year project time line and Plaisted will look at non- COPs financing options.

Thorp said he would like to board to take the first step in June to put the bond issue on the November ballot. Houdeshell suggested trying to get that done in May. Garland noted that 13 of the top 20 projects listed on the original facilities assessment have already been done. Plans being discussed now would cover 19 of the 20.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11, in the high school library

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