YOUNGSTOWN Wasted space found at schools

The state will re-evaluate the schools to decide if an additional $10 million should be spent on repairs.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Architects and engineers have discovered some 47,700 square feet of useless space in Chaney High School, The Rayen School and Volney Rogers Middle School.
The space was created by the inefficient layout of rooms and hallways in the three schools, said Steven Ludwinski, a senior project manager hired by the board of education. For example, he said wide hallways in Rayen could be narrowed to create additional space for other rooms.
Architects and engineers found 32,000 square feet of useless space in Rayen while conducting a facility evaluation of the school earlier this year, Ludwinski said. They also found 12,000 square feet of useless space in Chaney and 3,700 square feet in Volney Rogers, he said.
Increased cost: Ludwinski discussed the space Wednesday while updating the board on the status of renovation and construction plans for the city's schools. He also told the board that about $10 million may have to be added to the cost of a $163.5 million school renovation and construction project.
The money would help pay for repairs to problems that the Ohio School Facilities Commission did not find when it last evaluated the schools in 1998. Architects and engineers found the problems when evaluating the schools this year to prepare for the renovation and construction project.
The project cost was based on the 1998 evaluation.
After Ludwinski's report, the school board voted to ask the facilities commission to re-evaluate Choffin Career and Technical Center, Williamson Elementary School and East Middle School. Architects and engineers found the most problems in those three schools.
Gary Kasper, a project administrator for the facilities commission, said the re-evaluation would be complete in six weeks.
The school board would then decide if it wants to add any repairs proposed by the facilities commission to the renovation and construction project. The state will pay for 80 percent of the project, while the remaining 20 percent will come from a $33.2 million tax issue approved by voters last November.
School board Treasurer Carolyn Funk said the board's additional share would come from interest earned on bonds.
Spending: The $10 million estimate includes the cost of adding 47,700 square feet to the schools to compensate for the useless space, Ludwinski said. Kasper said the city school board is the first school board in the state to ask about useless space in the schools.
Ludwinski said that $10 million also would pay for repair of structural problems at East, Choffin and Williamson, as well as the replacement of Choffin's air conditioning system. The wood floors in East also would be replaced, he said.
The school board should consider the possibility of constructing a new school to replace East once the re-evaluation is completed, Ludwinski said. He said the board may find it more financially prudent to build a new school based on the final cost estimates created by the facilities commission.
The facilities project calls for major renovations to 12 school buildings as well as construction of three new elementary schools and a new high school.

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