October 2, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain Schools ends contract with architect

LORAIN — The architect for the school district’s 13-building, multimillion-dollar project was dismissed by the Board of Education on Wednesday.

Columbus-based McDonald, Cassell & Bassett was paid about $10.8 million since being hired for the project in 2002, according to Dan DeNicola, Lorain Schools chief operating officer. DeNicola said McDonald had done unrelated work for the district in the late 1990s. McDonald officials couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Board attorney Anthony Giardini said McDonald will finish work at Admiral King Elementary and Southview Middle School. He refused to call the termination a firing or give a reason for it.

“The contract specifically allows them or the school district to terminate the contract at any time on 15 days’ notice without a reason,” Giardini said. “We don’t have to have a reason to do it.”

The ouster comes as the district prepares to break ground for a new high school. Board President Tony Dimacchia said he didn’t expect the decision to cause major delays for the school, which is projected to open in late 2015 or early 2016.

“This project is the biggest project in the history of Lorain City Schools,” he said. “We are going to do our due diligence to make sure that this project is completed in the way we’d like it completed.”

The decision came after a one-hour, closed-door board discussion and a day after Dimacchia was re-elected and Issue 14, the 1.5 percent earned income tax the district had sought to balance the budget, was defeated.

Dimacchia said the decision was based on DeNicola’s recommendation and denied that it was delayed until after the election.

“I don’t withhold any information to try to get a vote,” Dimacchia said. “I sit in a seat to try to make a positive change for Lorain City Schools.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.