As costs rise, feasibility of Kenmore school renovation is in question


Estimated costs to renovate the Legacy Buildings of Akron Public Schools who have yet to be replaced have soared in some cases to double their original estimates from four months ago, according to a report presented Thursday to the school board’s finance committee.

According to the report, the cost of just meeting the basic needs of keeping students and staff warm, safe and dry rose from $113 million for 10 buildings to nearly $180 million for just nine buildings. .

The Ott Building, which currently houses administrative offices for specialist programs including APS Online, originally had a renovation cost estimate of $7.8 million but was not investigated further. and was not included in the list presented to the board on Thursday.

Rising cost estimates could jeopardize the future of a major priority for the school board and the community of Kenmore – the renovation of the old Kenmore High School and the possible relocation of Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts in this space. .

Kenmore’s renovation costs have risen from a previous estimate of $27 million to $43 million, not considering what it would take to make the updates necessary to move an arts-focused program into this building.

The school board pushed Superintendent Christine Fowler Mack to study the feasibility of renovating Kenmore, which closed as Kenmore-Garfield High School at the end of last school year, and moving Miller South into that building. The The Kenmore community has expressed significant concerns about the huge vacant and decaying building, as has happened to other closed schools in the neighborhood.

Council passed a resolution requiring the superintendent to present a feasibility study to council by July 11. This was pushed back to July 25 because the superintendent was on vacation on July 11. The presentation of the final report has been pushed back again, Fowler Mack said Thursday, likely to a meeting in August or early September.

But a draft of that report already given to board members shows the administration is deeply concerned about the feasibility of the plan.

“At this time, there does not appear to be a viable path to fund the full renovation of the Kenmore-Garfield Building without major compromises, realignment of established priorities and possible operating fee in the near future,” the document states.

Kenmore’s final feasibility assessment is still ongoing

Fowler Mack said the Kenmore report was still just a draft and its findings could be adjusted as it worked to include additional information requested by the board. But the cost estimates included in the project are almost final, she said.

The cost estimates are part of a facilities study the district commissioned from Hammond Construction Inc. last year.

Whether to renovate Kenmore is only part of an overall plan the district must develop for its long-term facility needs, Fowler Mack told council. The draft report also addresses this notion.

“Consistent with our value to embrace equity, we urge the Board of Education to consider the overall facility needs for all students in the district before declaring priorities,” the report said. “Consistent with our value of financial responsibility, we caution against the unprecedented use of General Fund dollars on a single building with no current students and in a district with declining enrollment, which will create far-reaching financial implications. for our district.”

That doesn’t mean a decision hasn’t been made, Fowler Mack said, and the conversation will continue when the report is finalized in the next month. Only two members of the board of directors were present Thursday for the meeting of the finance committee.

Fowler Mack and Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Ryan Pendleton reviewed funding streams for major renovations or new construction, noting that it would require significant investments from the district’s general fund, which pays teachers and the day-to-day operations of the district. district or a new source of funding.

However, the list of projects could be reduced.

The Miller South building is also in poor condition, so moving this school to Kenmore, or any other building, would remove the current Miller South building needs from the to-do list. It is also possible that more than one program will transfer to Kenmore.

There may be other ways to shore up the district, Fowler Mack said, so the 10 legacy buildings that need work won’t necessarily continue to be used.

The district will also need a plan to relocate STEM High School, as the school district’s lease with the University of Akron for the old Central-Hower High School building expires after the 2022-23 school year.

A university spokesperson said an additional year would be added to the deal, giving STEM use of the building until 2023-24, but then it would end.

Renovation costs are rising

The most expensive building on the need list is North High School, at $50 million, but the North School cluster is the only one in Akron to see enrollment growth.

Miller South’s requirements have also increased from an initial estimate of $16 million to over $26 million.

The report gives three reasons why cost estimates have increased so significantly in a short time: updated pricing to reflect current market conditions; more complete and accurate lists of items considered high priorities, including the domino effect that replacement of HVAC, for example, has on floors and ceilings; and the inclusion of non-construction costs and a contingency budget.

The renovation cost for Pfeiffer Elementary had an initial estimate of $4.5 million, but the final estimate, for high-priority needs alone, is now $7.6 million. The Essex Early Learning Center, which houses preschool classrooms and overflow kindergarten classrooms from Harris Jackson CLC, has seen its cost estimate rise from $3.9 million to $7.6 million of dollars.

Riedinger, which currently houses the Bridges Learning Center and the Akron Alternative Academy, saw the largest percentage increase in cost estimates, from $3.9 million to more than $12 million.

Contact educational journalist Jennifer Pignolet at [email protected], 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.

Hammond Construction has estimated high priority repair costs for older APS buildings:

North High School — $50,566,657.50

high kenmore — $42,974,607.03

Miller South — $26,351,798.33

Elemental Pfeiffer — $7,605,384.52

Firestone Park Elementary School — $14,622,927.64

I promise school — $10,460,981.75

Essex Early Learning Center — $7,610,931.25

Stewart — $6,964,339.96

Riedinger (currently hosts Bridges Learning Center and Akron Alternative Academy) – $12,120,172.61

Total — $179,277,800.59


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