The Canal Winchester Board of Education agreed Sept. 18 to hire key architectural and construction firms so the district can move another step toward breaking ground for a $23.5 million renovation and addition to the high school.

Earlier this year, the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission and the Ohio Controlling Board approved the project to add about 50,000 square feet to the high school.

The state will pay 80 percent of the project costs, or $18.8 million. The district's portion is approximately $4.7 million.

Board members agreed to an architect/engineering contract with Schorr Architects Inc. totaling nearly $1,785,444 for design services. Of that amount, nearly $1.4 million will be paid by the state, leaving $354,805 as the district's share.

The district also is responsible for paying $11,421 for local initiatives. The funds are for design work for a 1,749-square-foot vocational classroom, not covered in the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission program.

Treasurer Nick Roberts said Schorr Architects went through a "pretty rigorous prequalification" process, competing against 12 other firms.

Superintendent Jim Sotlar said architects are now drawing up preliminary designs and will bring them to the board's October meeting.

The board also approved hiring Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc. as construction manager. Ruscilli will be in charge of every phase of the project, from bids through completion.

Roberts said construction manager candidates went through the same prequalification process as the architects.

"We had about 14 construction companies that applied for this," he said. "Ruscilli won out at the end. If something does not get done, it's on them as far as a risk standpoint." he said.

Ruscilli will be paid about $66,047 for preconstruction services. Of that amount, the state will contribute $52,373 and the district will pay $13,093.

The district will also pay an additional $581 for Ruscilli's initial work on the vocational classroom.

The third hire was for Dynamix Engineering to act as commissioning agent to help work through any issues with renovating the high school.

"The OFCC recommend that this project, due to being so extensive in renovation, that this needs to be done, so we took their recommendation to get the commissioning agent," Roberts said.

Dynamix will be paid $192,017. The state's portion is $152,262, while the district will pay $38,065 for its share, along with $1,690 for the extra vocational classroom space.

In other matters, the school district gave Canal Winchester Human Services a check for $8,670.

The money was raised during staff dress-down days last school year.