- Published on Thursday, 16 August 2012 15:54
A good question is "How can this building be made safe?"
The majority of the safety issues are located in the original 1867 section of the building. While it is the most historic section, it is in the worst shape. Due to its condition and the way it lines up with the other sections of the building it would be best to demolish the 1867 section. The safety concerns in the remaining sections would all be fixed during the renovation.
After the 1867 section is demolished, new construction would rise in its place. Because this new construction would be in the center of and touch all of the other sections of the building, this gives a great opportunity to make the entire building ADA-compliant with the use of elevators and/or ramps. The rebuilt section would include a new and improved cafeteria and kitchen. A new boiler room will be constructed to create a new, modern central mechanical area. This rebuilt section could also include a new gymnasium, allowing the current stage-based gym floor to be used as a stage or secondary gymnasium. Then music and drama functions will not interfere with athletic activities as they do now.
Each of the three remaining sections of the building will be completely renovated. During this renovation all of the other safety issues will be addressed along with issues of convenience and educational efficiency. During this time, asbestos abatement will occur. A full renovation will see all windows and exterior doors replaced. The entire electrical system will be upgraded or replaced to accommodate all present and future mechanical and technological needs. The plumbing system will be replaced, including all bathrooms which would be gutted and reinstalled. At this time a sprinkler system could be installed throughout the building. The fire alarm system will be replaced or modified to include the classroom horns and strobes that the building currently lacks. New heating and air conditioning would be added with ductwork running along the ceilings. That ductwork and other modifications would then be hidden above drop ceilings that will add to the building's energy efficiency. Walls will be repaired both inside and out. Stairs would be replaced with the stairwells being walled in at that time to alleviate the open stairway concern.
A question that will arise, of course, is what to do with the students displaced by the renovations. While portable classrooms (trailers) are not ideal, they do work and serve many schools well for years at a time. The Exceptional Needs Program funding will co-fund the rental of trailer classroom space. There are two ways this could be done, as described below.
The first option would be to renovate McCormick one section at a time. As each section is renovated, it would be closed to students but the other two sections would remain open. Trailers would need to be provided for the students displaced by the closed section. During the time the central section is being rebuilt, adjustments will need to be made for cafeteria space. There are several possibilities, including students staying in classrooms, using the library, using the space above the library (formerly latchkey), or a combination of these or other areas. This will require creative scheduling, but is certainly possible. Construction could possibly be scheduled so that the 1867 section could be demolished and the new cafeteria completed during summer so that this concern disappears. If necessary, food could be cooked in one of the other buildings and trucked to the middle school just as the high school currently cooks for Westwood and delivers the food.
Another option might be to place trailers at Westwood and the high school and house all of the students there while the entire McCormick project takes place. This would allow the project to progress more quickly and through creative scheduling the students would still have access to a full cafeteria for the duration of the project. A study should be done to analyze which option would be more cost effective.
Either way, this plan would seem to satisfy both those who want a new building or are concerned about safety at McCormick and those who won't accept the loss of the middle school.
What is the Cost?
Cost is an understandable concern. To get true figures, we need to look at a detailed feasibility study of McCormick Middle School. This feasibility study will show detailed cost estimates for all work necessary in each section of the building. It will also show the most efficient use of the current space. I have requested this feasibility study from the superintendent's office. To be honest, I don't know if this exists because I cannot find anywhere in the minutes from the school board meetings where they approved the funding for the study.
One consideration regarding the cost of this plan is that several parts would qualify for Ohio House Bill 264 (HB 264) funding. This funding applies to building systems that can be upgraded to achieve operational/energy savings. These funds are issued by the state to the district in the form of a loan with repayment based on anticipated savings over a set number of years. For this renovation, all exterior doors and windows, roofing, and heating and air conditioning may qualify for HB 264 funding. Because of the structure of this funding, these loans cost local taxpayers nothing. While HB 264 would not apply to the new construction portion of this project, the parts of the renovation portion of the project that this could cover are significant.
Disclaimer:This site is not affiliated with the Village of Wellington, Wellington Exempted Village School District, or Citizens for Wellington Schools. This site is privately owned and maintained and all expenses are paid for out of my own pocket. This portion of the website was created to bring all pertinent information to one place, because when I did my own research on the subject I found that the information being published is sometimes incomplete or incorrect. I have been careful to verify as much of my information as possible. The sources of my data can be found within the links on the Resources page.