By Denise Dick
City school board members are mulling options for what to do with the district administration building: keep it as is; use half and sell or lease the rest; or sell or lease the whole thing.
“We have a lot of options,” said Michael Murphy, chairman of the school board’s Finance and Business Committee.
A report last month from Youngstown architect Paul J. Ricciuti estimated that the building at West Wood Street and Wick Avenue costs the district about $540,000 annually including custodial service, utilities and repairs.
“This is not considered a viable option,” the report says.
Murphy said the Finance and Business Committee this week asked Douglas Hiscox, deputy superintendent for academic affairs, to visit East and Chaney high schools to determine how much space would be available for use for offices.
“He’s supposed to come back to our next meeting – the first week in August – to let us know,” he said.
Among the options is moving offices out of the downtown building into the schools and either selling or leasing the Rayen part of the building while keeping the Irene Ward part of the building or selling or leasing the whole building.
The idea is to save money. Members of the Youngstown City School District Academic Distress Commission also have touted the trend of moving central office personnel out of one location and into school buildings.
“The Ward building needs a lot of work,” Murphy said. “It needs windows, a new roof and new air conditioning.”
The entire complex houses the superintendent’s, treasurer’s, human resources, security and business offices as well as the special education, curriculum and data departments, the board room and record storage.
The Ward section fronts Wood Street, and the Rayen section, the original Rayen School, fronts Wick Avenue.
Judge William Rayen died in 1854, but his estate provided funds for a trust and the founding of The Rayen School, where all of Youngstown’s children could be educated. It was built in 1866 and became the first public school in Mahoning County. The attached Ward building was added later.
The school moved to Benita Avenue when a new building was erected there in 1922, but the school district tore that down in 2007 as part of a 14-building school-rebuilding program.
The plan was to rebuild Rayen as a middle school, but the state, which paid 80 percent of the rebuilding program cost, scrapped that idea because of declining pupil enrollment.
The district maintains the Rayen name, though, with Rayen Early College Middle School, which is housed inside the Chaney building.
Murphy said the district has to determine how the potential sale or lease of the building would affect the relationship with the Judge William Rayen Foundation, which provides scholarships and other annual funding to the district for things that have included choir robes and band uniforms.