Youngstown schools set to be rebuilt

It's cheaper to build a new school than to renovate East Middle School, the state says.
YOUNGSTOWN -- By a 6-1 vote, the Youngstown Board of Education approved a plan to demolish East Middle and Williamson Elementary schools and replace them with new buildings.
"It would be more cost-effective to build a new school" in both cases, said Lock P. Beachum, board vice president, who made the motion Monday at a special meeting. He said new construction also would lower utility costs.
But Terri O'Connor-Brown, the dissenter, said, "I don't feel that new is necessarily better. I think that we should preserve our old buildings for the most part at almost any expense."
The board also approved additional spending for renovation of Chaney High School, The Rayen School and North Elementary School, and reduced spending for renovations to Kirkmere Elementary School and Volney Rogers Junior High School based on a reassessment by the Ohio School Facilities Commission in September. The commission's initial assessment was conducted in 1998.
The board's action followed the recommendation of Steven L. Ludwinski, senior project manager for HeeryInternational Inc. of Cleveland, which is managing the construction and renovation effort.
Budget: The changes add about $9.4 million to the original $163.5 million school construction and renovation project, bringing the total to $172.9 million. Of the $9.4 million in additional funds, the state will provide all but $1,881,418, which would come from the school board.
Treasurer Carolyn Funk said having to come up with the additional money would not adversely affect the board's finances over the next five years.
The commission found that it is cheaper to build a new East Middle School than to renovate the building to serve the board's needs. A new building would cost an estimated $14,819,890, including the cost of asbestos removal and demolition, compared to $15,363,275 to renovate the building.
One drawback, however, is that demolition would result in the loss of the auditorium, and the state won't pay for new auditorium construction, Ludwinski said. Architect Paul Ricciuti said the community could conduct a fund-raiser for an auditorium, however.
Plans: The new East Middle School building is to be part of a campus upon which the new East Side high school will be built, surrounded by school athletic fields and the adjacent Victory Field.
At Williamson, the reassessment found renovation costs would be $6,035,385, compared to $6,731,400 for a new building, including asbestos abatement and demolition.
Pending further study of its future vocational education needs, the board deferred consideration of what to do about the state's reassessment of Choffin Career and Technical Center, which came up with a $14,811,748 renovation cost -- some $161,212 higher than the initial $14,650,536 estimate.

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