NILES Plan recommends demolition, then building of new schools
The district won't even be eligible for the funding for about 12 years, the superintendent said.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- The Ohio Facilities Commission recommends demolishing the district's five elementary schools, building two new ones and renovating and expanding the high school for about $49.2 million.
The district has a year to accept or reject the plan.
"It's not even an issue right now," said Superintendent Patrick Guliano.
The district released the preliminary master plan study Monday.
The district's rank is 254, based on need.
"They're at 131 now, and they do about 10 per year," the superintendent said. "It will be about 12 years before they even get to us at that rate. I don't know how viable it is."
Under the plan
The plan recommends $46.6 million in construction for two new elementary schools, and renovations and additions to McKinley High School. It also lists $2.6 million in demolition and hazardous material abatement costs for the five elementary buildings.
Under the OSFC program, when the district's time comes on the list, the state will pay $29 million for the improvements, and local funds would have to cover the remaining $20 million.
The study didn't address Edison Junior High School, which is expected to be demolished when a new middle school, under construction off state Route 46 through funding from another OSFC program and local dollars, is complete.
The state mandates that schools be replaced if the cost of renovation exceeds by two-thirds the cost of new construction. The study also considered projected enrollment for the district, which is expected to drop over the next 10 years. The peak enrollment is expected in the 2005-'06 school year, at 2,961 pupils.
According to the study, the cost of renovating each of the five elementary school buildings exceeds the two-thirds mark.
"It's not that our buildings aren't safe," Guliano said.
Lincoln Elementary, built in 1963, is the newest school building in the district. The buildings met the standards when they were constructed, but standards change, Guliano said.
The study says the ventilation systems in each school building are inadequate. While the classrooms at Bonham and Lincoln elementaries meet the state standards, the classrooms at Washington, Garfield and Jackson are undersized.
"Our classrooms are 600 square feet. The state recommends 800 square feet," Guliano said. "It's impossible for us to just knock out a wall to make a bigger classroom."
The buildings' fire alarm systems are inadequate, and there are no sprinkler systems in any of the district's six buildings. That wasn't a requirement when the buildings were constructed, Guliano said.
None of the buildings are in compliance overall with Americans with Disabilities accessibility requirements, according to the report. All of the buildings, except Lincoln, include asbestos-containing materials.
Some restrooms at the high school are handicapped-accessible, Guliano said. Although it's a two-story building, there isn't an elevator.
Renovations and additions at the high school would include larger classrooms, a sprinkler system and handicapped-accessibility. Guliano said that without repairs the district has done at the high school the last few years, the study likely would recommended its demolition as well.
"It's not really viable at this point," he said of the study. "We're not eligible for funding now anyway."