Grove City Record

April 22

Bid-opening will launch district's building program

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April 22 is shaping up to be a big day in the South-Western City School District and it will have nothing to do with a test or sporting event.

That is the target date for the district to open up the bids for the first phase of its huge facilities project.

The first phase will involve constructing new buildings for Alton Hall, Harmon, Monterey and Prairie Norton elementary schools.

On April 22, "You'll either hear screams of joy or screams of tears" coming from the district office, depending on whether the bids that are received follow South-Western's expectations, Superintendent Bill Wise said.

A construction update was one of the topics discussed March 8 during the second day of the school board's "visioning" meeting.

The district should be bid-ready by March 22, said Mike Dingeldein, owner of SHP Leading Design, the project's architect.

The expectation is the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and other entities will have completed their review of project documents by that time and the project cost estimate will be approved, he said.

"We have met with every code official in every jurisdiction in your district to walk them through the plans," Dingeldein said, and it is likely the project will be ready to receive building permits by the end of March.

The school board likely will be asked to approve construction documents and give the authorization to bid the project at its March 25 meeting, he said.

That timetable has the goal of opening the four new elementary schools in the fall of 2014 on target, Dingeldein said.

The bids the district receives will be important to that goal, Wise said, hence his joke about the screaming on April 22.

If the bids are 10 percent higher than projected, the district will not be able to accept any of those initial bids, extending the process and delaying construction, he said.

Another potential roadblock could be a rainy fall, which also would delay the moving of dirt at the sites, Wise said.

The board also heard some preliminary details regarding plans for the construction of a new Franklin Heights High School.

The new building will overlap with the existing auditorium, which will remain and serve with the Falcon's Nest as the anchors of the new structure, said Todd Thackery, a vice president at SHP.

Some athletic fields will be relocated and the band practice field will be located by the main soccer field, he said.

"During construction there will be significant disruption to athletic events and the ability to practice for them," Wise said. "There will be times when those facilities will not be available" and activities may have to be held elsewhere.

The Falcon's Nest recreation center may also need to be closed for up to a year and serve as temporary classroom space, he said.

The new building will be three-stories tall, with some one-story and two-story sections, Thackery said.

To provide room for cranes and other machinery to be able to safely maneuver during construction, the corner of the existing building where wrestling practices are held will be demolished, Wise said. The wrestling team will practice in the Falcon's Nest.

The next step in moving toward final design plans for the new high school building is to meet with and get input from the various faculty departments, Thackery said.

The district also will be seeking input from Franklin Heights families, Wise said.

The feedback from faculty and the community will be gathered by the end of April so work can begin on setting a construction schedule, he said.

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