Two-phase renovation of Westgate school proposed

EAST LIVERPOOL – Proposed renovations to the Westgate Middle School complex could cost upwards of $2.5 million and would have to be accomplished in more than one phase, according to an architect who addressed the board of education this week.

Brett M. Hendricks, president and CEO of Balog, Steines, Hendricks & Manchester Architects Inc. (BSHM) reported Monday on the outcome of a recently completed buildings facilities update study. The same report was given late last week to the board’s buildings and grounds committee.

The recommendations made from the study included a two-phase process that would replace and repair portions of the roof and replace the heating/cooling system in the main office and academic areas with installation of air conditioning the academic section currently does not have.

It was noted a section of metal roof was replaced 15 years ago and is still in good condition so will not need to be replaced, while all six sections of a flat roof have failed and will need replacing.

The roofing phase has an estimated cost of $550,000, and money still remains in the local funding portion of the district’s Ohio School Facilities Commission improvement project to pay that cost, according to Treasurer Todd Puster.

If approved by the board, the roofing project would most likely get under way this coming summer.

The HVAC portion of the project would come in around $1.9 million, and the district would have to secure financing for that work, which would begin in the summer of 2015.

Although Westgate was originally slated for demolition as part of the OSFC project, the district determined the building is actually needed.

“It’s no secret that the building project was under-sized,” Puster said after the meeting, noting it currently houses 350 fifth- and sixth-grade students for whom no classroom space exists in the recently renovated LaCroft or North elementary buildings.

A 2012 report projected enrollment of 2,090 by 2021-22, and the 2007 master plan for renovation provided capacity for 2,075 students, whereas current enrollment is 2,300 and holding steady, according to Puster.

In a March 2013 letter, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (formerly OSFC) said the decision whether or not to keep a school building scheduled for demolition as part of such a construction project lies “solely with the local school district.”

However, after hiring a company to evaluate the facilities, the OFCC concluded there is sufficient capacity in the renovated facilities to accommodate the district’s needs and that renovating Westgate would “go beyond the long-term need of the district.”

Nonetheless, the OFCC agreed to continued use of Westgate as a locally funded initiative, that is, at the district’s cost with no state money to be expended.

The board took no action Monday, but Puster said afterward he expects a recommendation for the first phase of the project to be presented for the board’s consideration at its Feb. 24 meeting.