Board studies plans for career center

Despite the fire, enrollment is up 17 percent this year.



CANFIELD — Board members at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center are reviewing conceptual plans for a $16.4 million expansion that will increase capacity in nearly all of the school’s programs and rebuild a wing destroyed by fire in May.

Major expansions will be concentrated in adult education, interactive media and culinary arts, though the addition will benefit nearly every program of study, said Superintendent Roan M. Craig. About half of the 70,000-square-foot addition will be dedicated to reconstruction of the portion of the school consumed in the blaze.

Though the damaged wing remains closed, students have been making do in reduced quarters, said Craig. The school’s hospitality program has been holding classes in the teachers’ lunchroom, she said.

“These kids really need more space,” Craig said.

Despite the fire, demand for the school’s technical education programs is strong, said Craig. Enrollment jumped by 125 students, or 17 percent, this year, she said.

“We don’t have too many programs that aren’t near capacity,” said Craig.

Plans for the expansion were under way before the fire, said Craig, though the timetable has been advanced in light of the circumstances. The school hopes to break ground on the project this spring. Construction is not expected to be complete for two years.

A 17-year-old student is accused of igniting the fire late last school year, when she activated a lighter over a bucket of solvent. Pamela Schindler, of Salem, is charged with criminal damaging. She pleaded innocent and the case is set for trial, said Craig.

Kyle Layne, 19, of Alliance, is c harged with obstructing official business for misleading police during the investigation. Layne pleaded no contest to charges in July. He was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and pay a $100 fine. He is serving a year of probation in lieu of jail time.

The district is expecting to offset costs for the expansion program with a $4 million payment from its insurance company. The district also plans to contribute $9 million in savings to the project, said Craig. The remaining balance will be financed, said Treasurer Blaise Karlovic.

Board members are still weighing the possibility of installing a geothermal heating and cooling system for a cost of $3 million to $5 million. Karlovic said the district will conduct a study comparing energy cost savings with the upfront investment in the system. The board is also considering adding a sprinkler system at a cost of $2.50 per square foot.

Karlovic said investment in the school will help the school remain viable for years to come.

“This takes a technical center, it morphs it into making this institution the educational hub of the county,” said Karlovic.

Further discussions with the board of education and school faculty will take place before the design is finalized, said Paul J. Ricciuti, director of planning for Balog Steines Hendricks & Manchester Architects Inc.

“This is still schematics,” said Ricciuti. “We’re going to come back and talk to every teacher individually.”

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