South-Western City Schools wrap up summer's facility fixes

ALAN FROMAN
afroman@thisweeknews.com
Mark Meadows, property-services coordinator for South-Western City Schools, stands Aug. 27 on the playground at Highland Park Elementary School, where improvements have been made this summer. A project to replace the rubber mulch surfaces at elementary school playgrounds with permanent rubberized tiles will continue during the fall at Stiles, Prairie Lincoln and Prairie Norton schools.

When South-Western City Schools students and staff are able to return to their school buildings for face-to-face learning, they will find many of the facilities and grounds have been spruced up.

Several summer maintenance projects have been completed, while the rest are expected to be done by the beginning of November, property services supervisor Mark Meadows said.

"We try to get the slate of projects completed before the cold weather settles in," he said.

The district has an annual permanent-improvement budget totaling about $1 million, said Sandy Nekoloff, executive director of communications.

The list of permanent-improvement projects planned for each year fits into that annual budget, Meadows said.

"We create a master plan that is based on need," he said. "We evaluate the properties yearly to determine what improvements are most needed."

This year's summer projects included a complete roof replacement at the South-Western Preschool Center.

"It will not only immensely improve the performance of the building, it also really enhances the visual aspect of it as well," he said. "It really makes the building shine."

Asphalt repairs were completed throughout the district, including replacement of the athletic run into the stadium and new pavement going up to the concession stands at Grove City High School. The north drive behind Galloway Ridge Intermediate School and the north lot at Stiles Elementary School also were paved, Meadows said.

A project to replace the rubber-mulch surfaces at elementary school playgrounds with permanent, rubberized tiles will continue during the fall at Stiles, Prairie Lincoln and Prairie Norton schools, he said.

The tiles "really add nice visual cues to the sites, not to mention the rubberized material is way more sustainable," Meadows said. "The rubber mulch is something you have to continually clean up."

The playground projects were expected to be completed over the summer, but the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic slowed the arrival of supplies, he said.

For the most part, the pandemic has not affected the schedule of other projects, Meadows said.

Larger projects completed over the summer included installing a new HVAC system at Darby Woods Elementary School and a project completed in collaboration with Grove City to replace the steam-boiler system at the old Kingston School building. The city uses the building for its parks and recreation offices and for programs and activities the department provides.

A number of projects is "coming to a close" at East Franklin Elementary School, Meadows said.

When all the work is done, East Franklin will have a new HVAC system and controls, new plumbing and fixtures, complete electrical scope with modern lighting, new doors, a new vestibule and new pavement and drives on the school site, he said.

East Franklin, which is South-Western's oldest elementary school building, had been closed after voters approved the first Ohio Facilities Construction Commission bond issue in 2012 to construct 13 new elementary school buildings. The district retained the building and reopened the school during the 2018-19 school year to accommodate increased enrollment.

The East Franklin work was not included as part of the regular permanent-improvement budget, Nekoloff said.

The renovation of the building was included in the second OFCC bond issue voters approved in November 2018, she said.

The $93 million bond issue will pay the district's share of the second phase of the OFCC project to construct new buildings for Brookpark, Finland, Norton and Pleasant View middle schools and renovate East Franklin and Jackson Middle School.

The total cost of the East Franklin improvements was about $4.7 million, Nekoloff said.

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