By Denise Dick
The city school district is considering selling its West Wood Street administration building and moving those offices to school buildings to cut costs.
The district applied for a grant through the state Straight A Fund to do a feasibility study but wasn’t successful, said Treasurer James Reinhard.
The first step is such a study, and Reinhard, Superintendent Connie Hathorn and other members of the administration already have met with some architectural firms, although nothing has been finalized.
The treasurer estimates that about $540,000 annually could be saved without the building, by cutting six maintenance positions through attrition, reduced utilities and contracted maintenance. That doesn’t include whatever the district may be able to get for the building in a sale.
“That’s $540,000 freed up that could go into the classroom,” he recently told members of the Youngstown City Schools Academic Distress Commission.
He estimated the one-time cost of relocating offices, including a feasibility study, architect’s remodeling fee, moving expenses and any rewiring for phone and data lines, at $430,000.
“I think doing the study would be a worthwhile expense if it could save $540,000,” said Adrienne O’Neill, commission chairwoman.
The commission recommended the district move forward with the study.
The school board hasn’t taken any action on the plan.
Personnel in the administration building, including Reinhard, Hathorn and their staffs, would move to school buildings, although Reinhard said they would not necessarily all be in the same place. Their new locations haven’t been determined.
“There’s a trend across the country to move central staff back to school buildings as opposed to having them in a central office,” O’Neill said.
A previous performance audit by the state auditor’s office recommended the administration building, known as the Irene Ward building, be sold or leased and central office staff moved to Choffin Career and Technical Center and other school buildings.