State helping Norwalk with plan for schools

Norwalk's Board of Education should have a master plan detailing building renovations or new construction recommended by the state in May. Once the master plan is complete, the district can decide if it is worth it to the district to complete all the renovations and construction suggested by the state to receive state funds for the project.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010


Norwalk's Board of Education should have a master plan detailing building renovations or new construction recommended by the state in May.

Once the master plan is complete, the district can decide if it is worth it to the district to complete all the renovations and construction suggested by the state to receive state funds for the project.

Carol Kempton, regional program consultant for Regency Construction Services, Inc., told the board the state pays for the development of the master plan. Once the building assessment is complete, she explained, her company will determine the cost of the recommendations approved in the master plan.

To get 52 percent of the recommended changes paid for by the state, she explained, the district would have to do everything the master plan suggested. The district is not obligated to make any renovations if the board doesn't feel it can handle the financial burden, she said.

"We may have two or three options," Kempton said.

"We're not planning on going to the voters" for new levies to pay for renovations or construction, board member John Lendrum said. But he said the master plan will be a valuable planning tool for the district.

Treasurer Kenn France said the district will be paying off the remaining $21 million borrowed to build the high school until 2028. "You have to look at how far in debt you want to put the district," he said.

Mike Kotansky, of ADA Architects, Inc., attended to explain to board members how he, another architect and a mechanical/electrical engineer will tour all six school buildings in the district in the next month. It takes about four hours to gather information for each building, he said.

"We will look at every square inch in the building," he said. The team will also check the condition of doors, windows, roofs, masonry and mechanical and electrical systems. Using a computer system, he said, the team will turn in their assessments. The state has contracted with Regency to develop recommendations based on state requirements.

Only buildings for classes are considered in the study so sports facilities, the bus garage and the administration building on Benedict will not be included in the master plan.

Lendrum asked that the administration building be included since it has been used for classes when space wasn't available in other buildings. "If this is overflow for students, this building should be done," he said.

Superintendent Wayne Babcanec said no classes were being held in the administration building during the current year, but performances are held in the auditorium and it was available on a contingency basis.

Eugene Chipiga, planning manager for the Ohio School Facilities Commission, said his agency probably wouldn't include the administration building, but the district could contract privately with Kotansky to include it during his assessment of other buildings.

Chipiga told the board that OSFC has paid a percentage of the costs to renovate or build more than 500 of the 3,500 public school buildings across the state in the past 10 years.

Each year the state puts out a priority list of public districts for state funding for renovations and new buildings. Norwalk moved from number 304 to 289 in the past year.

Kempton told the board that projected enrollment also will be a part of the master plan. She said the state uses a formula based on past growth, growth and building in the district and birth rates are all considered.

Babcanec said the district has seen steady growth over the past eight years, but he credited the building of the new high school with that growth and said he thinks enrollment will level out soon.

Kempton also told the board that elementary buildings with fewer than 350 students are not eligible for state funding for renovations unless the state would grant a waiver.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Gordon said League Elementary is the only building in the district affected by that rule as it has about 260 students. Kempton said she has never had trouble with a waiver not being granted to a small school that a district felt had historical value and was important to the district, but the decision is up to the OSFC.

"If you have a building that the community wants to keep for historical reasons, we can make suggestions," she said.

Chipiga estimated the average cost of building a new elementary school for 500 students is from $12 million to $15 million.

Kempton also told board members that Regency will include a three percent allowance for the total project to include items suggested for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating.

LEED rates buildings based on energy efficiency and addresses issues such as classroom acoustics, mold prevention and environmental assessment.

Chipiga told the board that including "green" resources could cut energy and water bills by up to 30 percent.

The district will have one year from the time the final master plan is approved to secure funding for completing all recommendations.


citizen4change ...

Comment deleted for libelous content.

schoolparent (A...

Now here is a prime example of how these comment boards can get out of whack. This is an article about the school district and its need for space to be analyzed. The story is confined to that subject only. NOWHERE does it state anything about HCJFS or any of their personnel issues. The previous poster has decided to use this forum for their own personal agenda against someone at that office. If there is a problem with an organization, tell the newspaper to write a story about that...and THEN comment on that story. Next thing will be 50 comments on the HCJFS and nothing about the school system story, which is for what this forum was intended.

ditto (Anonymous)

Right on, schoolparent. citzeen4change has spouted off on these allegations numerous times and we're all tired of his/her whinning. Take it to an attorney, take it to the prosecutor, take it anywhere but get it off here.

citizen4change ...

I will not use another format for posting on these issues. The community needs to know whats going on over there. If something would get done about it then i would stop. Why don't we get a supervisor on here to answer those allegations. They won't get on here because they know its true and they know they haven't done anything about it. So until something is done, get use to me posting anywhere, on any topic about the issues going on at Huron County Jobs and Family Services.

jseoxtwp (Anonymous)

So basically citizen4change could careless about Norwalk's schools. Understood.

I, on the other hand, would hate to see League School go. Hopefully this historic building will be kept in tact for many many years. Does anyone know what year the old high school was built? Is League the oldest building?

citizen4change ...

No i didn't say i didn't care about Norwalk Schools. What i said was there are other issues that need to be addressed besides the school system.

citizen4change ...

So i see the powers that be are deleting my comments because they are quote libelous. HOw are they libelous? They are the truth. THe Clerk at Child Support is the one who is running her mouth about certain issues that she shouldn't be. And her bosses are not doing anything about it. I think the paper should do an investigative report on those issues at child support. Lets use common sense people, if i know the information people, how did i find out???? Someone from that adgency told me.

citizen4change ...

I wonder why the post was deleted?? Maybe because a name was being used. OK i won't use a name, but i will tell you she is the only Clerk in Child Support.

put a cork in i...

dear citizen4terror or pi4 life or whatever, two words i wish you'd learn "protection" and "order". "psychotherapy" and "anger management" are next on the list. Keeping League Street school is what the topic is. A very worthwhile subject matter.

dear citizen4te...

nobody cares about your so called problem. call swiss family and tell them all about it, ok?

About time (Ano...

It's about time state and school can finally work together. It has been a long time coming. Norwalk school has a great school system.

I agree (Anonymous)

Norwalk does have the best schools.

It costs money ...

Too bad it costs money to pay for them to go to a good school here in town. I can not afford it.

Good education ...

I respect all the teahers and staff who work hard everyday, in all the schools. We have great kids in the community.

good education ...

I also wanted to say the parents do a great job of helping with their childs school life. Keep it up Norwalk Schools!
I'm proud of you.

Parents (Anonymous)

Parents do play a very important role in their childs life.

Test scores (An...

Are there state test scores for the private schools in norwalk? If so how do I find them?

Ask (Anonymous)

ask a teacher where your child goes to school. You can also try googling your childs school, and type in test scores.