The Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District is moving forward with a plan to renovate or replace buildings in the district.
At Tuesday’s CH-UH School Board meeting, members approved two contracts to hire companies that will help the district devise a plan and estimate the cost of the overhaul.
The district has hired a group of architectural firms that will work together to create a master plan. Minneapolis-based Fielding Nair, Fanning Howey of Dublin, OH and local firm studioTECHNE will develop a plan and engage the community in the decision-making process.
Cleveland-based Regency Construction will review the plan that the group of companies comes up with and conduct a cost and constructability analysis to estimate approximately the amount of money the district will need to raise to complete the project.
The team of architects will receive $334,840, and the base fee for Regency Construction is $30,000, said Steve Shergalis, director of business services for the district, by email. The Regency payment will be adjusted based on the number of master plans the group analyzes, he said.
The district is paying the companies with money from the permanent improvement fund, Superintendent Douglas Heuer said at the meeting.
"We were band-aiding the often outdated facilities we're working in right now, and accumulated $40 million in repairs to just fix them," he said. Now, the district is redirecting that money toward lasting improvements, and operating funds will not be used.
A 16-person interview team comprised of district staff, teachers and members from the community conducted two-hour meetings over two days after selecting what it believed to be the best firms, Shergalis said.
“The committee debated and reached complete consensus,” he said at the meeting.
He said each brings certain strengths. Fanning Howey has several years of experience in school design and . The firm designed the footbridge and developed a plan for streetscape improvements in the .
Fielding Nair was also hired in February for about $13,400 to devise broad recommendations based on work at other schools around the world and its study of CH-UH. The consultant envisioned dramatic changes to the layout of school buildings, creating much larger classrooms divided by glass partitions, converting hallways and other unused spaces into learning centers, multi-building, campus-like school sites and amphitheater-style classrooms outside, among several other ideas.
The district is starting with suggestions offered by the CH-UH Citizens Facilities Committee, — hire experts and don't waste permanent improvement funds on basic renovations.
About 50 school board and city council members, administrators, parents, teachers and others comprised the committee, which was separated into four subcommittees — facilities, educational, facilities options and finance — to focus on specific aspects of the schools.
The district began examining the structural condition of its schools last year when the Ohio School Facilities Commission concluded that the buildings were antiquated and required a major overhaul. The committee was formed and had its first meeting in September 2010, and the school .
"School and community leaders worked diligently for more than a year, performing a facilities review and laying the foundation for future facilities planning," Heuer said in a press release. "We were charged by the Board of Education to continue that work. After undergoing a lengthy and careful selection process, we have a team of experts who will be able to work with this community to come up with the best long-term comprehensive facilities plan for our students and the community."
The district wants to engage residents throughout the process through community and teacher workshops, focus groups, surveys, social media, blogging and small informal chats, according to the press release.
For more information about facilities planning, including copies of the contracts, visit www.CHUH.org.