John Burroughs under construction

John Burroughs Elementary School (JBES) is one of many schools being scheduled for refurbishment this coming fall.

The price tag for this renovation is estimated to be $9.8 million, which will come out of the $456 million Columbus Public Schools (CPS) received from the approved bond issue in 2002.

According to district spokesman Jeff Warner, that is pretty comparable to what is being spent on other schools’ reconstruction projects.

“They’re all in the neighborhood of $8 or $9 million dollars. We’re just getting the bids back. Everything will be wrapped up by the summer of 2009 and collectively we’re under budget on all our [building] budgets,” said Warner.

Warner said it was necessary to refurbish rather than reconstruct JBES because there just was not enough room as it was and the building is considered historic.

“John Burroughs is one of the ten buildings studied that was originally scheduled to be demolished, prior to the passage of the bond issue,” said Carol Olschavsky, Senior Executive of Capital Improvements at CPS.

Olschavsky explained the Columbus Landmarks Foundation produced a study done by teams on ten of the district’s historic buildings with the aim of these teams showing how much cheaper it would be to renovate these remarkable buildings rather than tear them down and rebuild.

Nine out of the ten district buildings involved in the study were approved for refurbishment.

“On really old historic buildings it’s running the same [to refurbish rather than reconstruct] because there’s unknown costs that tend to run it up a bit, but it’s right around the cost of a new building,” said Olschavsky.

Olschavsky said as they continue to renovate other historic buildings that are in better condition than JBES, the expenses are expected to decrease.

The modifications being made to JBES are numerous, according to Olschavsky. The entire building is getting new heating and ventilating, elevators are being installed and a large addition will made to allow JBES to have a separate gymnasium and cafeteria. In addition, there will be newly added cabinetry in the classrooms, new finishes on the ceilings and walls and new technology.

The anticipated technology will include each classroom having five computers and also a ceiling-mounted projector for audio-visual presentations as part of the Master Technical Systems for all school buildings.

“One of the features that the community, particularly parents are excited about, are all the buildings have enhanced security in them now,? said Olschavsky.

Olschavsky says there will be somewhere between 16-32 security cameras inside and outside the building, depending on how many are needed. Usually the standard number is 16 cameras in an elementary school, but because JBES is a historic building, Olschavsky says there are more doors and corners that need covered, so it is a good possibility there will be more than 16.

“The building has security locks, so the only way anyone can come into the building is through a security locked foyer entry, so that unwanted people can’t get into the building during the day without coming through the office,” said Olschavsky. “It also helps to make sure anyone doesn’t leave the building that isn’t supposed to.”

Warner said CPS is not the only entity involved in the decision-making of whether to modernize a building versus rebuilding it. Another program involved is the Neighborhood School Development Partnership Program (NSDP) working in conjunction with Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC).

“Those [organizations] are business and community leaders and that helps to provide oversight on our school construction program,” said Warner.

Rick Savors, Chief of Communications at OSFC explained OSFC’s part in the school building equation.

“Whenever we enter into an agreement to a facility school project, we do an overall plan that encompasses every student in the district and we do a physical assessment to see which buildings would be renovated and which are candidates for new construction,” said Savors. “At the end of the day when the district and Board of Education agree on a plan, we want to make sure every child has the same opportunities, has the same facilities available to them,” said Savors.

Savors said some of the funding will come through OSFC, about 30 percent and the rest comes from the passage of the bond issue but he is pleased with the “Master Facility Plan” to refurbish JBES.

“Yes, I think it’s a decent solution. One of the things that we have in our objectives when we do a renovated building is we want to make sure it has similar facilities and similar amenities that a new building would have, and the same life expectancy as a new building,” said Savors.

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