The Canal Winchester Times

Canal Winchester schools

Board updated on $52 million master plan

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Canal Winchester Board of Education received an update on a $52 million master plan for its school buildings at its Oct. 17 meeting.

Representatives of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) and Regency Construction Services, a regional program consultant for the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC), discussed the previous master plan for the district in terms of building needs, improvements that have been made to the schools, and future needs.

The OSFC, which was founded in 1997, provides districts with partial funding and assistance for the construction and renovation of school facilities.

"You, as a district, are in competition with 611 districts," OFCC representative Wayne Colman told the board.

Originally, when Canal Winchester was placed high on a priority list of districts to receive state assistance, the master plan was based on enrollment projections that included preschool students and students attending vocational schools.

Under current criteria, Colman said, those two groups are eliminated from the enrollment projections and building assessment calculations that determine what work is needed to bring buildings up to current design standards.

Due to the economy and the need to pass an operating levy, the Canal Winchester district deferred accepting funding from the OSFC because the initial offer would have meant the school system would have to finish all items on the plan and ask voters to pay for 69 percent of the work.

The district did complete a partial addition and renovation at the high school, a two-phase build to Winchester Trail Elementary School, and constructed a new middle school building.

Because those segments of the master plan had to be done without state funding, the district was credited with $37,983,024 for the cost of the work that was previously completed.

The credit could be used for a single building, or divided among the remaining projects on the plan.

New enrollment projections and an assessment of the buildings determine the scope of the work.

Consultant Monica Bruaw of Regency Construction said the projected enrollment for Canal Winchester schools in the 2020-2021 school year is 4,284 students. For the current school year, the district has an enrollment of 3,574 students.

Because of changes in state legislation, the district would now be able to tap into a portion of state funds over a period of time without having to complete all of the projects, as long as it finishes an entire building on the plan and/or a complete grade level, including renovations, Bruaw said.

Under the revised master plan, the work that remains on the district's list include the renovation and an addition to the high school; abatement and demolition of the old Intermediate building; an addition to Indian Trail Elementary School; and an addition to Canal Winchester Middle School.

The total master plan, which includes past and future work, carries a cost estimate of more than $72 million. Once the district's credit is applied to the bill, its portion to finish every aspect of the plan would be nearly $12 million.

Superintendent Jim Sotlar said the district's most pressing need is work on the high school, since it is near capacity and class sizes in the next several years are expected to push the building closer to its limits.

In addition to the high school, Sotlar said another priority is the abatement and demolition or the renovation of the intermediate school that has been sitting empty for many years. He said costs may prohibit that building from being renovated and used for classroom space.

Now that the revised plan has been presented to the school board for review, the district has until fall of 2014 to tell the OSFC if it intends to use the state funding to complete the master plan or if it wants to continue to place that decision on hold.

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