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State meets with Austintown Board for new school plans



Published: Fri, December 20, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.

By kalea hall

khall@vindy.com

austintown

Representatives from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission said the project to build a new Austintown Fitch High School is one of the largest for the commission.

Details about the future plans for a new high school were discussed Wednesday afternoon by the representatives and board members.

“My feeling is, it is great for the community that the state is partnering with us,” said Vincent Colaluca, superintendent of Austintown schools.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission, which was consolidated along with the former state architect’s office into the OFCC, announced over the summer Austintown’s award of a 47 percent cost coverage for the estimated $68 million project. A 21st-century, 285,000-square-foot building will replace Fitch High, which opened in the late 1960s.

Colaluca said the current building has limited instructional space and prevents the district from adding needed technology advancements.

“We need a 21st-century building for 21st-century learning,” Colaluca said.

In order to use the state funds, the district has to pass a bond issue that most likely will be on May’s ballot. The amount of the bond issue is not yet certain.

The school board agreed to hire the architectural firm of Olsavsky Jaminet, at the cost of $24,195 for preliminary design on components of the project that are not covered by the OFCC. Colaluca said the district is looking to refurbish two gymnasiums in the high school and the auditorium. Under the OSFC funding guidelines, construction of an auditorium is not included unless it is considered a “cafeteria/auditorium.” This would be considered a locally funded initiative, which might be added to the bond issue for a new high school. If not, it will be a separate bond issue.

Steve Roka, project manager for OFCC, said if the issue does not pass within the 13-month time frame it will go into a lapse status, which means the district no longer will be offered the funds until the local share is raised first. The share will not change, but the dollar amount could change with inflation.

“Our fear with that is that there are so many things going well in the Valley, inflation may increase,” Colaluca said.

Roka explained that when the commission believes the cost to revamp the school is two-thirds the cost to replace the school, then it is in the district’s best interest to build new. The cost to renovate Fitch is 70 percent of the cost to build a new high school.

Another issue with renovating is there is no “swing space” to put the students.

“Obviously, you are on the cutting edge of what we are doing here, so we hope you are successful,” Roka said.

Colaluca said the plan is to build a new high school in a wooded area that the board purchased next to the existing schools, to remain a campus.

“We will keep the Fitch traditions going,” Roka said.


Comments

1repeaters(180 comments)posted 4 months ago

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all you unfortunate homeowners in Austintown. A 40-43 year old school building is to old???? And don't forget the maintenance levy for the new school too. But of course, as always, 'it's for the children' whom they indoctrinate in school, before they let the 18 year olds go to the voting booths in the school to raise their parents property taxes. I wouldn't look for the Racino to save you. The casino's aren't generating the revenue that was anticipated so what makes anybody think there is an endless supply of money out there? When all those old responsible retirees with a defined pension system dye off, the tax burden has to fall on the rest of you who mostly can't add. subtract, multiply, and divide. You can either sell your house at a loss now, or sell it at a bigger loss in the future. Nineteen fifties mentality is still alive. but hey; 'happy holidays Austin 'tax' town'.

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2myogi82(1 comment)posted 3 months, 4 weeks ago

As long as Austintown has open enrollment, I will not vote yes on another school levy. Austintown has gone downhill since my children were there, which wasn't all that many years ago. Now its so much worse with the open enrollment. I'm not sure I want my tax dollars bringing in anymore riff raff.

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3Not_Gilligans_Ginger(107 comments)posted 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Not ALL the students openly enrolled are "riff raff" myogi82. I paid for my son to attend Catholic grade school for 9 years to keep him out of the YCSD, and he does very well in honors classes at Fitch. As an educator, I needed to do what I felt was in the best interest of my son. Don't worry, state funds are diverted to Austintown for my son, and, as an Ohio taxpayer, I am happy to see that the state wants to invest in Austintown. For what it's worth, I live in the Cornersburg area of Youngstown. I do understand what you mean, however. I tutor at the Austintown Library and regularly see a group of boisterous students waiting for their parents to pick them up from school but at the library. I didn't realize the public library offered babysitting services for high school age students. I'm sure all Mahoning County residents would be thrilled to know that there are 2 or 3 security guards there M-Th during late afternoons.

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4atowngrad(21 comments)posted 3 months, 4 weeks ago

So yet again this superintendent hires the same Architect that they used on the problem plagued and ill programmed middle school and the copied elementary school buildings. Oh wait, didn't someone else post in the past that this Architect is buddies with the oldest board member who should have been removed 30 years ago. I guess dinner, golf and assumed kickbacks are the ways to get a project for the ALSD. Oh well I digress on to the real reason for this post.

So yet again we will be faced with another use it or lose it scenario by the board. Bull, if the levy isn't passed the money does NOT go away it is reappropriated to other districts then the ALSD is revisited I believe after a year hiatus. The casino isn't even opened yet and no one knows what additional tax money will be generated. Because of this there is NO reason for anyone in A town to vote yes for a levy before the additional tax money is seen from the casino. Why you ask? Do you want to pay...or can you afford to pay another $200+ a year in property taxes assuming a smaller house and $68 million project. Quick number crunching there, may be higher may be lower.

So why would they hire an Architect for $20k to look at the gyms and auditorium when the article says the school will be built in another location? What is going on here and what is the overall master plan?

The district has that much extra money floating around that they can just waste it? Why wouldn't they wait to see what happens with the levy when they shove it down the taxpayers throats. Oh wait I am sure a levy would pass since it is apparent that taxpayers in A town don't research anything they just vote Yes on every levy, look at the past history....schools, fire, police...there must be more money in A town than anyone knows what to do with.

Well I will vote NO on any new levy simply because I know that myself and quite a few others cannot afford another $200+ increase in our property taxes. All we are doing anymore is working to pay for everyone else's fortunes....just like the rest of the country.

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