By Dedra Cordle
District officials have approved a bid that will take South-Western City Schools another step closer toward the construction of four middle school buildings.
At the Oct. 21 meeting, the board of education announced the selection of Schorr Architects, Inc. to oversee the design of Brookpark, Finland, Norton and Pleasant View middle schools. The approval of their bid continues the partnership between the two entities regarding school build projects.
In addition to designing Jackson Middle School and the South-Western Career Academy, Schorr Architects also assisted in the design and build of 13 new elementary schools, the renovation of two others and a new high school. The latter project was a part of a voter approved bond issue that allowed the district to enter into a $260 million partnership with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission in 2012.
Board President Mindy Garverick said she was pleased that the architectural firm will lead the second segment of the OFCC project.
“I am thrilled to have them back on board,” she said.
She added that their design of the massive elementary and high school build project and their professionalism during the process was a reflection of their hard work and dedication.
Under the terms of the agreement, the district will pay the firm a professional design services fee of $7.29 million. In addition to design services, they will also oversee site geotechnical testing, site surveys and traffic impact studies.
Tony Schorr and Michael Dingeldein, the project management lead and the architectural project design lead, respectively, attended the meeting to give a construction update report.
According to Dingeldein, each of the new middle schools will be approximately 112,812 square-feet and consist of 33,780 square-feet of “academic core space.”
He said the building staff will have a say in what that space will look like during the design process. He also said during recent discussions with the staff, they spoke about needing differentiated learning space, space for those with social and emotional issues, shared teaching learning space and space for decompression for teachers.
“We had a lot of great feedback about how the learning space should be used,” said Dingeldein. “They brought up issues that I never would have thought of (without their input).”
Board member David Donofrio said he thought it was exciting that the teachers will continue to have a voice during the design process, adding that it opens the door to many possibilities.
Dingeldein also discussed the building process of the individual schools and some of the challenges they pose.
Jackson Middle School will undergo renovations during the second phase of the $193 million OFCC project. Dingeldein said there will be an addition of roughly 8,000 to 10,000 square-feet of additional teaching space.
“We will not be disturbing the assets (that were built in the early 2000s),” he said.
Norton Middle School will be built slightly north of the existing site and south of Norton Elementary, allowing for teachers, staff and buses to share existing lot space.
Finland Middle School will also be built adjacent to the existing site, allowing teachers, staff and buses to share existing lot space with Franklin Woods Intermediate.
Pleasant View Middle School will be built adjacent to Bolton Crossing Elementary and Brookpark will be built in the Beulah Park development. The city of Grove City and the district recently agreed to a swap where the city will purchase land for the construction of the middle school while the city will use the existing location on Park Street for recreational activities come 2022.
Dingeldein said a major concern he has regarding the build is the cost of inflation.
“It’s at 5 to 6 percent this year, which is very unusual.”
He said the increase could be attributed to recently imposed tariffs on materials and goods and the availability of labor.
He added that they will have to “get creative” to keep the project cost down and mentioned the use of pre-manufactured panels. He said there is a local company that makes pre-manufactured panels which would dramatically cut down on the cost of material delivery.
Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise said the district is also concerned about the rise in inflation and will revisit the return on investments.
“We have not made any decisions at this time,” he said.
Wise added that a top priority is for all the classrooms and buildings to have equity.
“A classroom is a classroom” he said. “Students should have the same opportunity to learn no matter where they live.”
He said he remains confident that the district and its building partners will continue their phase one of mantra “on time and under budget.”
“I don’t expect that to change due to the market.”
The next step in the construction process is to review and approve construction bids. That is expected to take place later this year. Dingeldein said the start of the build project should begin in the summer of 2020 with a completion date of 2022.
“We are thrilled to once again work with the district and excited for the next step in the process,” he said.