- Published on Saturday, 11 August 2012 13:55
- Written by Mark Wright
McCormick Middle School
Election Day has finally arrived and the votes have been tabulated. Unfortunately, 59% of the electorate (at least in Lorain County) has voted in favor of funding a new middle school. While I obviously disagree with this, the people have spoken.
I will leave this section of the website online for anyone who may want to reference it for any reason.
Please use the links in the left column to further explore the information on this site.
Wellington Schools are once again presented with an opportunity for state assistance with facilities improvements. Our school board has worked to create a plan that they hope will be more acceptable to the electorate. They have assembled a levy committee that has already been hard at work to pass this issue and they have made great strides at raising funds and getting their message out. The basis of the plan this time around is to build a new building as a replacement for McCormick Middle School, leaving Westwood and Wellington High School as is.
I don't want to take away from the work done by the board and levy committee, but maybe it's time to "think outside of the box" and present some creative ideas that could possibly satisfy a broader portion of the community. That is the purpose of this section of this website.
Asbestos in Our Schools
Yes, asbestos is found in the construction of McCormick. But it is also found in Wellington High School and at Westwood. At McCormick, 14% of the 151 samples taken tested positive for asbestos, most having a concentration level of 2% or less. At Westwood, 25% of the 36 samples tested positive with most showing a concentration of 3.5%-5%. At WHS, 38% of the samples tested positive for asbestos with most showing concentration levels of 2.3%-3.8%. So the asbestos in Westwood and WHS are more concentrated than that in McCormick. It should also be noted that since the asbestos in these two newer buildings is located in the flooring, the asbestos is likely in every room in the buildings. If you are interested in more details about this, please check out this full article.
Is McCormick the "Worst" School in Ohio? It's a Matter of Opinion.
The state never really said McCormick was the worst in Ohio, just the worst of the projects applying for Exceptional Needs Program funding. But is McCormick really even the worst of those? Look at the image above (click it for a full size image).
There is a sizable difference between the scoring on the ENP - Facility Scoring Summary and the ENP - Site Visit Report.
The ENP - Facility Scoring Summary (left) is a worksheet used by the assessors during the actual, physical ENP assessment site visit. Notice the assessors' scores for sections 1 through 5 do not equal the Total Possible points for each section, giving a Total score of 86/100. This document also contains the assessors' handwritten notes and comments. The full report is available here.
The ENP - Site Visit Report (right) is the assessment document that is given to the local school district. Notice the scores for sections 1 through 5 are now all equal to the Total Possible points for each section, giving a Total score of 100/100. This document is typewritten and includes pictures. There is at least one inaccurate statement, where it claims that the boilers were installed in 1953, when in fact they were installed around 2001. This full report is available here.
So how was the rating determined? The physical inspection was performed by three engineers, an architect, and a "senior associate" from an electrical engineering firm. These five men toured the building, recording the handwritten notes above as they performed their on-site inspection. That report was then revised into the typed report above, which was used by a structural engineer, an architect, and three superintendents to rank the buildings that had applied for ENP funding.
According to a webpage on the school district's website, an estimate from a reputable architectural firm shows that renovation would cost "several million dollars more than building new." I cannot dispute that statement. However, that doesn't mean that a new building is cheaper for local taxpayers. The state will pay for 37% of a new building through their Exceptional Needs Program (ENP). The same level of co-funding would also apply to renovations, up to the cost of equally sized new construction. The OSFC retains the ability to approve renovations if it is demonstrated that the building has special historical value or for other good cause shown. In addition, the district could use Ohio House Bill 264 (HB264) to reduce the locally funded share of the project. HB264 funding is not available for new construction.
This is much simpler to see if I give you some numbers. These numbers came directly from the OSFC Assessments for McCormick that are available in the Resources page here on my site and on the Levy Committee's Facebook page. These numbers are reasonable approximations based on the limited data that is available to the community.
|$21,144,600.00||Estimated Cost of Renovation from 2012 OSFC Assessment|
|Remove cost to renovate 1867 section which would be demolished|
|- $2,978,400.00||Remove cost of HVAC in 1916, 1938, and 1953 sections *Paid by HB264|
|- $438,000.00||Remove cost of new lighting in 1916, 1938, and 1953 sections *Work completed Summer 2012 using HB264|
|- $710,500.00||Remove cost of window replacement in 1916, 1938, and 1953 sections *Paid by HB264|
|- $73,200.00||Remove cost of window components *Paid by HB264|
|- $48,500.00||Remove cost of exterior door replacement in 1916, 1938, and 1953 sections *Paid by HB264|
|- $2,004,750.00||Remove cost of brick veneer replacement in 1916, 1938, and 1953 sections. While some brick work certainly needs to be completed, total replacement of all exterior brick is excessive and unnecessary.|
|$9,253,350.00||Total Possible Savings with Renovation Plan|
|$11,891,250.00||Estimated Total Cost of Renovation|
It is important to keep in mind that the above costs cover only the renovation portion of the alternative project that I have detailed elsewhere on this site. Where the 1867 section is removed, an addition would be constructed to house a new kitchen, cafeteria, gymnasium, and mechanical areas. Working with the information that I have access to from the OSFC, we could reasonably expect to pay approximately $3.9 million for this addition. With this added in, the estimated construction cost of the alternate plan would be approximately $15.79 million.
The estimated construction cost of the proposed new school is $16.78 million. The alternate plan has construction costs that are approximately $1 million less than new construction.
This does not factor in the cost of temporary housing (called swing space) for students which is discussed elsewhere on this site. However, it also does not factor in certain savings that would likely be realized such as recent technology upgrades that were budgeted in renovation but have already been completed and the removal of certain materials which may or may not contain hazardous materials (I am awaiting a report from the district to determine this). Factoring in these additional costs would likely make the alternate plan roughly the same price as a new school. However, the alternate plan would include a fixed seat auditorium that could be used as a secondary gymnasium - neither of which is included in the proposed new school. It also would keep roughly the same amount of educational space which would ensure that the district has enough space for the foreseeable future.
I'm asking you to have an open mind as you read this information. I'm not saying that saving McCormick is positively the best solution for our community. Nor am I saying that abandoning it is. Open minds lead to innovative solutions for complex problems. Open minds promote alternative viewpoints that may provide advantages that would otherwise be overlooked. What I'm asking you to consider, with an open mind, is a different kind of plan that would take into consideration the physical and safety needs of educating our children, the financial constraints that we all feel during this tough economy, and the historic nature of the middle school. I believe that we can find a plan that will be acceptable to all sides.
Bond Issue Details
As of August 19, 2012, the bond issue to be voted on in November is a 3.47 mill bond issued for 36 years - as noted on the levy committee's Replace McCormick Facebook page. The following information was also found on the same page.
This would raise $15 million for the co-funded building, $1.5 million for removing asbestos from McCormick and, if needed, demolishing the structure, and $1 million for additional improvements that the state will not assist with (administrative offices and an enlarged auditorium - though we are not yet sure what they intend with this). The bond issue also includes 0.5 mills for building operation as required by OSFC.
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.