November 28, 2014

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Lorain High project on time and on budget thus far, school board is told

LORAIN — Plans for the $73 million new Lorain High School are on budget and on schedule, Board of Education members were told Tuesday.

This artist’s rendering shows what the new Lorain High School campus, scheduled to open in 2016, could look like.

“It’s all good news,” said Dana Strizzi, senior project manager for Hammond Construction, the Canton-based company managing the project. “Everything you have seen here, our budget will accept. It’s pretty exciting that that happened, and it doesn’t happen very often.”

The approximately 315,000-square-foot school, slated to open in August 2016 at 2600 Ashland Ave., includes a three-floor academic wing, an 800-seat auditorium, a career tech center and a gymnasium. The 16,000-square-foot gymnasium, which will seat 2,000, will be the largest in Lorain County, said Chris Smith, the lead architect and a partner at TDA Architecture, the Cleveland-based project architect.

A 7,000-square-foot auxiliary gymnasium will seat 500.

Demolition of the former Lorain High School is expected to be completed this week and construction of the new school is scheduled for April. The school is scheduled to open in August 2016.

The school will be the last in a 14-building project that also included 10 elementary schools and three middle schools approved by voters in 2001. State taxpayers are paying 81 percent of the cost.

Smith said his company had balanced costs and needs and been inclusive to residents and Lorain Schools staff.

“We’re involving everybody,” he said.

However, former board member Paul Bieber questioned whether there was room for four basketball teams to do full-court practices in the gym simultaneously and said there hadn’t been enough public and staff input.

Parent Brian Reinhardt, Toni Morrison Elementary School PTO vice president, said Lorain County has high radon gas levels and questioned whether plans to put a layer of soil over existing soil at the site would mitigate the gas.

Reinhardt said proper mitigation could only occur through building pressurization or a ventilation system underneath the building.

“We need to make sure that these people are doing what we’re paying them to do,” he said.

In other business:

  • The board renewed its busing contract with Cincinnati-based First Student Inc. The five-year contract is for about $12.2 million. Board member Jim Smith cast the lone no vote. Smith said First Student has done a good job, but he wouldn’t vote for any general fund spending until Treasurer Dale Weber, who has projected a $1.13 million deficit, delivers his five-year financial forecast at the May 27 board meeting. While Board President Tim Williams accused him of political grandstanding, Smith said a vote could’ve been delayed, saying the First Student contract doesn’t expire until June 30. “I do not vote to spend money until I know how much money we have,” Smith said.
  • Demolition of the former Masson Elementary School at 1800 W. 40th St., is being put out for bids. Abatement of the school will cost $325,000 and demolition about $382,000, according to Superintendent Tom Tucker.
  • The school district is considering dumping its Success for All reading improvement program, but Reinhardt told Tucker that what reading program is used won’t make any difference if Tucker can’t get more parents to work to improve their children’s reading in their homes. “We do not have a reading problem. We have a participation in reading problem,” Reinhardt said.

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