Foundations for Education: Clay school building almost complete

Mantell PDTarticleFrom his office, Superintendent Anthony Mantell can practically reach out his window and touch the new Clay school building. The new K-12 building broke ground in 2009 and is expected to be complete this summer, in time for the start of the 2011-12 school year.

“We passed a levy in March 2008 in the primary election,” Mantell said. “The total project cost at this time is right about $23 million, and the local share is 19 percent of that. The state share is 81 percent.”

The district spent a year working closely with the Ohio School Facilities Commission to plan and design the building. Mantell said they traveled across Ohio meeting with other districts who also just finished building projects of their own, to gain insight from their experiences.

“We saw things we liked in other buildings and other districts, but we were more interested in asking those people, ‘if you did your building over again, knowing what you know now, what would you not do?’” Mantell said.

After the building plans were approved by the state, the district bid a site package in March 2009 to prepare the land in front of the existing Clay High School for construction — leveling the terrace, removing trees and compacting the soil. The district spent more than $600,000 on site preparation even before they accepted bids for a general contractor.

“We bid that (general contractor) back in April 2010 and they were given the go ahead and got started in May,” Mantell said.

The district plans to demolish most of the existing high school building after the new building is completed in July, and hopes to have the lot cleared for parking and playgrounds before the new school year begins. The gymnasium in the current high school will be saved and connected to the new building, and will be used as the elementary gym. That portion of the project is funded entirely by a Locally Funded Initiative (LFI), which was included as part of the tax levy passed in March 2008.

A new high school gym is included in the new school building.

The new building is also LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited, with green technologies to conserve energy and promote renewable resources. Friendly for the environment, but also for the school’s budget as the cost of heating and cooling drops.

“A lot of those LEED points you get during construction, by recycling materials that you used. By buying materials more local, because if they have to drive it on a truck for 2,000 miles there are carbon emissions. Once the building is complete, then the lighting systems and the heating systems … and we’re going to have a recycling center in our building,” Mantell said.

He called the entire experience a pleasant one for him, and said he was very pleased that they have been able to use local contractors. The project includes J&H of Portsmouth as the general contractor, West End Electric of Portsmouth for the electric and BB&E of Portsmouth for the plumbing and HVAC.

“To watch these guys work together and have local people working, I really see that they have a sense of pride. I’ve had many discussions with the guys here, and it’s really been a good experience from that standpoint,” Mantell said. “One thing our board is really happy about is that we could get local contractors who mostly hire local workers, and the fact that this is a $23 million building and a vast majority of that goes right back into our community.”

He said it has been a pleasure working with local contractors.

Once the building is finished, Mantell said he will be very excited to see teachers having access to new educational resources that have never had before —  such as interactive SmartBoards in every classroom —  and seeing the children prosper from these features.

“Just to know that our district will now be like some of the other districts who have this state-of-the-art type of building, that probably is the biggest issue for me. I am so excited for the first day, when children walk in and I get to watch their expressions and hear their reactions,” he said.

He said the district will have an open house and dedication ceremony to invite the community inside to see the new building once it is complete.

Read more: Portsmouth Daily Times – Foundations For Education

Source:  Ottney, Ryan Scott.  “Foundations for Education.”  Portsmouth-dailytimes.com.  21 January 2011.  25 January 2011  <http://portsmouth-dailytimes.com/view/full_story/11079927/article-Foundations-For-Education?>.

New Clay Schools Progressing

The new preK-12 building under construction for the Clay Local School District is progressing according to schedule.  The students, teachers, and staff of the district are getting more excited every day as they watch what will be their new school come up from the ground.
“I feel we are progressing along very well,” Tony Mantell, superintendent of the Clay Local School District, said.  “It seems that all parties are on the same page; things seem to be in concert.  All the contractors are working together with the district.”
    
“A lot of the floor slabs have been poured and many walls have been erected.  They will be setting steel next week, which will be in preparation of the second floor,” Mantell continued.  “From my perspective, all of the contractors have a good working relationship.  That’s one of the true benefits of having local people work on the job.  We have all local contractors.”
    
Mantell said there have been no issues thus far with the new school being built in front of the current high school.  According to the current construction schedule, the district is set to take possession of the building in July of 2011.
    
“From the results of last Thursday’s progress meeting, there are some things that are a little behind schedule.  Other things are a little ahead of schedule,” Mantell added.  “Right now, it appears we are pretty close to being on schedule.”
    
“We are going to save part of the current high school and we are building a connector between the new building and the old building.  We are going to refurbish the part (of the current high school) that we save,” Mantell said.  “We can’t abandon this high school in case there would be some reason we could not start the new year in the new building.”
    
Once the building is complete and the residents and contents of the high school are moved into it contractors will demolish parts of the current high school.  Demolition is not scheduled to be completed until some time in October of 2011.
    
“In the areas scheduled to be demolished will become a playground for our elementary kids.  When the new building is complete, there will be no playground for the elementary kids,” Mantell said.  “The north end of the high school that will be demolished will become a parking area and a bus pickup and drop off area.”  Mantell said that the pieces of the school will come together; it will just take some time.
    
“We hope to be able to start the (2011) year with the junior high and high school kids in the (new) building.  In October (of 2011) the project will be finished with the playground along with the parking and bus pickup and drop off area.  At that point the Rosemount and Rubyville students will come into the new building,” Mantell said.  “Every student will be in the building as soon as its safe and we can provide the education instruction that we need.”  Once complete there will be two playgrounds, one for pre-K and kindergarten with the other being for the rest of the elementary students.
    
“It’s been two and a half years since the bond issue passed.  It seemed like it was a long time before we were able to turn a shovel full of dirt.  Last summer and into the fall all we did was move dirt.  This summer we saw concrete being poured and block walls going up; it has been extremely exciting,” added Mantell.
    
“To envision what we are going to have in a year, what our children will be experiencing is really the greatest reward that any of us could ever imagine,” Mantell said.  “The people of Clay Township will have something to be extremely proud of.  Our building is going to be very unique; it will be like not others around.  We will have the most modern technology because it is the newest building.”  Mantell said each classroom will be equipped with modern technology including smart boards.
    
Mantell said, “I believe, as a superintendent and a guy that’s worked in education for 34 years, a good teacher is a good teacher.  A good teacher primarily makes good students and good learners.  That’s the most important aspect of education.  Like any other craft, you want to give the highly skilled craftsmen the best tools to work with.  If they are a great teacher without this, and you put state-of-the-art tools in their hands, they are going to become an even greater teacher.”

Source:  Allen, Wayne.  “New Clay Schools Progressing.” Community Common, 26 September 2010, p. 1A+.

Construction on New Clay School Set to Begin

Construction On New Clay School Set To Begin
by Wayne Allen

The Clay Local School district recently opened bids for it’s new preK-12 building on April 6. The bids came in slightly over what was estimated, but the district is set to move forward with its construction.

“The bids are in the process of being reviewed, by the construction manager. When they (construction manager) finish then the OSFC has to review the bids,” Tony Mantell, Superintendent of the Clay Local School District said. “Assuming that process goes well then we (Clay School District) will be able to formally accept those bids.”

It’s expected this process will occur within the next three weeks. Mantell said if everything works out and is acceptable the OSFC will issue a notice to proceed to the contractor(s).

“Our total base bid package came in about 2.9 percent over estimate. As long as you are within ten percent, you can move forward with your project,” Mantell said. “We are pleased that the bids came in at a level that allows us to proceed.”

The OSFC will pay 81 percent of the total construction costs. The district will pick up the remaining 19 percent.

“We are looking at about $240,000 that we are going to come up with as our share. Some of our LFI (Local Funded Inactive) money we will be able to use. We are not going to ask tax payers for more money. We are pursuing an interest free loan from the OSFC (Ohio School Facilities Commission) which can be stretched over ten years,” Mantell said.

“We are hoping that by mid to late May they will start the construction process,” Mantell said. “That puts us right at what the (construction) schedule is calling for. Right now the schedule calls for us to take possession of our building in July, 2011. Barring any unforeseen circumstances we will take possession of our new building. We are still planning to begin school in the building for the 2011-2012 school year.”

“The process is so long and so tedious. It (the process) is necessary, to make sure you get the design you want and need,” Mantell said. “We are very excited to now go to the next step and get away from all the planning and see all the preparation that’s been done be put into action through construction.”

The district made a request to the OSFC for a budget adjustment.

“The district has received a budget adjustment. We are in the neighborhood of about seven and a half percent over the original budget,” Mantell said. “We did some value engineering and did a budget adjustment at that time, to get us where the OSFC and the construction manager felt we should be. That’s what we went to bid with. Over all from our starting point to our bids, there has been between $1.1 and $1.3 million dollar budget adjustment.”

He said the district is very grateful the OSFC agreed to give them a budget adjustment, “otherwise our building would be drastically reduced in quality,” Mantell said.

Source:  Allen, Wayne.  “Construction of New Clay School Set to Begin.”  Community Common, 18 April 2010, p. 1A+.

School Superintedents Travel to Columbus

School Superintendents Travel To Columbus
by Ryan Scott Ottney

Superintendents from New Boston, Washington-Nile, Clay and Wheelersburg met with employees of the Ohio School Facilities Commission and Sen. Tom Niehaus, R-OH, in Columbus Monday to discuss their districts’ individual building projects.

Wheelersburg disputes $2.4 million in construction charges.  Wheelersburg Superintendent Mark Knapp said he attended the meeting to discuss closing his district’s building project, which was completed in 2008. Knapp said that — being unfamiliar with the process — he was concerned about how long the closing was taking, but said he was told it was actually quite normal.

“When you close a process out, there’s a process at the end where you make sure all the details have been taken care of, and all the contractors have been paid off to their final dollar amount,” Knapp said.

He said not every contractor has been paid yet, but said they will be.

One particularly large bill still in question comes from J&H Erectors in Portsmouth in the amount of $2.4 million.

“There was a meeting convened of the contractors, and the facilities commission, and the architects (in early 2008). Everyone was at the table. We agreed upon a four-month extension from March to July of ‘08. Each person around the table had an opportunity to discuss that issue in depth and to submit any request for information. Some contractors felt like they would need additional money to extend the project. Some were not impacted by that at all. So we proceeded on that basis. In August 2008, we started school, and then 12 months later the general contractor, J&H Erector of Portsmouth, Ohio, submitted an additional cost claim for approximately $2.4 million,” Knapp said.

Both Knapp and the OSFC have disputed the bill, and the charges are being investigated by both the school and the commission. If they find the charges to be legitimate, the school would be responsible for 26 percent of the bill. The remaining 74 percent would be paid by the OSFC, as per their school funding agreement.

“If the district legitimately owes these dollars then we’ll try to work it out and get it resolved,” Knapp said.

Don Hadsell, of J&H Erectors, said this was all part of the closing process.

“It ain’t an investigation, it’s a mediation. It’s part of the process for paying for adjustments. It’s the OSFC, and it’s in their manual. It’s happened on numerous projects with other contractors throughout the state. This is one of the few that’s ever happened with me,” he said.

Hadsell said he would not comment further, while they were still in negotiations with Wheelersburg School and the OSFC.

New Boston still on hold; Committee will recommend rejecting Millbrook Park site

New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs attended the meeting, and said he’s still waiting for the OSFC to give him an answer about his district’s proposed building site, on Lakeview Avenue in New Boston. The OSFC has not formally rejected the site but has asked the district to consider other building sites, and has recommended an area of Millbrook Park in New Boston as a possible alternative.

Until the district can present a suitable site, the OSFC has placed their new building project on hold indefinitely.

“We talked about our situation, and told them we were in limbo and we gave them reasons for us not to be in limbo, and the executive director Rich Murray said by the 22nd (of April) we would have an answer,” Staggs said.

He doesn’t know what the OSFC will tell them on the 22nd, but said he expects they might make a formal decision regarding the district’s proposed building site. He explained that the OSFC could not revoke the district’s funding for a new building, and said they will move forward one way or another.

Upon the commission’s recommendation, Staggs did approach the New Boston Village Council on April 6 to begin discussions of building at Millbrook Park. Council referred the issue to its Lands and Building committee. The committee met to discuss the proposal and voted unanimously to recommend that Village Council reject the proposal during its meeting April 20.

“There was a lot of reasons discussed. Really, the biggest one as far as I was concerned was that it was going to take a lot of recreation and we can’t do that,” Councilman Mike Payton said.

Payton said he was also concerned about the flooding potential on that site, and added that there was too much village history in the park.

Staggs has said all along that he doesn’t believe the park would be the best site anyway.

“We told them that we thought most of park was in the floodway based on the calculations of the hydrology study we had done on the other site. Not taking into account the creek on the other side of the field, because they have a floodway over there too. Any rational person who looks at it is going to say — even if it doesn’t expand from where we know it’s at now, we have very limited land,” Staggs said.

He said the district could not build the current building, with its current design, on the Millbrook Park property, so it would need to go back to the drawing table and delay the project further. All the while, he said, building costs are continuing to rise, and what the school hoped it could build for $21 million in 2008 (when voters approved a local tax levy for new schools) now will cost much more. The longer the project is delayed, the higher costs will go.

“In the past, it has not been the practice of the OSFC to tell a district where they can and cannot build,” Staggs said. “After all this is done, after all this is built, it’s the district that owns that land and maintains the building. So if we’re confident we can maintain it for another 94 years like we did this current building, why should they have a problem with that?”

Washington-Nile, Clay ask why

estimates are higher in southern Ohio

Washington-Nile Superintendent Patricia Ciraso and Clay Superintendent Tony Mantell both attended the meeting in Columbus on Monday to ask why building estimates are coming back so much higher in southern Ohio than in other parts of the state, and what the OSFC is doing to meet these conditions.

When Washington-Nile first opened its building project bids, they came back 22 percent over the original general contractor estimate — more than 11 percent over estimate, overall. This unexpected increase caused the OSFC to ask Mantell to delay bid advertising at Clay, fearing that the unusually high bids returned at Washington-Nile would be repeated at Clay also. As a result, Clay increased its building estimate by $1.4 million, without making any changes to their building plans. Bids still came back over estimate.

“We opened bids last week, and our bids came in about 2.9 percent higher than the second estimate. About 7.5 percent higher than our original estimate,” he said.

Ciraso said the OSFC was created so that schools across Ohio would be treated more fairly, and equitably, but charges the commission with being neither fair nor equitable to schools in southern Ohio. She and Mantell both have asked the OSFC why estimates are so much higher in southern Ohio, when all over the state other projects are coming back under budget.

“The OSFC gives a lot of rhetoric and says, ‘You must have difficult market conditions,’ and we asked them what they were doing about it,” he said.

Mantell said he was told the commission reviews its design manual and building costs every year based on market prices in central Ohio. Then they extend that formula to six different regions across the state and adjust them as each region needs. He said the OSFC did not specifically explain how the formula was adjusted for southern Ohio.

To help cover the increased building costs felt in southern Ohio right now, Clay has asked the OSFC for a budget adjustment; which was granted, but leaves Clay responsible for 19 percent of the additional funding. That amounts to about $240,000 that Clay will need to provide, and they will apply for a 10-year, interest-free loan from the OSFC to cover that cost.

“I truly and sincerely appreciate their willingness to give us a budget adjustment, because without that we couldn’t build a building. They seem to be encouraging about the possibility of a no-interest loan for 10 years, and I appreciate that,” Mantell said. “The process we feel sometimes is flawed, and bumps get in the way, but we are extremely excited to get this building started. We’re very happy that we’re moving forward, and we’re very happy that we’re going to have a brand new facility in 15 or 16 months.”

Washington-Nile also plans to ask for a budget adjustment to cover the increased building costs in southern Ohio.

The OSFC has already approved Washington-Nile’s building project as a Special Needs Project because of the district’s low wealth base, and will provide 98 percent of the building cost. If the commission approves the district’s request for a budget adjustment and gives them more money, the district still will be responsible for providing their 2 percent of the additional amount.

RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or rottney@heartlandpublications.com.

Source:  Ottney, Ryan Scott.  “School Superintendents Travel to Columbus.”  Portsmouth Daily Times, 15 April 2010, p. 1A+.

Districts Begin to See Progress on New School Projects

ncs_conceptThe Clay, New Boston and Washington-Nile (West) School Districts have seen there fair share of frustrations when it comes to the construction of new buildings for their district, some districts more than others. As a result of a meeting last week, Clay and West will soon be going out to bid on their project, while New Boston waits for answers.

“I think we’ve made a lot of strides in the last couple of weeks. We had originally had some estimate issues, it’s been a difficult thing. We’ve done some value engineering and we’ve looked at budget adjustments. During the last couple of weeks we have come to some resolution on those things with the OSFC (Ohio High School Facilities Commission,)” Tony Mantell, Superintendent of the Clay Local School District said. “It’s been challenging and frustrating at times but I think, the OSFC at this point has considered some of the issues and difficulties we’ve faced as a school district.”

Late last week the three superintendents traveled to Columbus to testify before the OSFC about the struggles they are facing with their building project. Both Clay and West requested budget adjustments on their projects. New Boston went there seeking answers.

“You do not really know if you need a budget adjustment until your bids come back. At that point you will really know. They (OSFC) have showed us they are flexible, they have indicated to us that the bidding environment in south central Ohio is pretty tough,” Mantell said. “According to Rich Murray, ‘there is a lack of competition among contractors.’”

Clay will begin advertising for bids on March 9th. On March 16th the district will hold a pre-bid meeting to answer any questions from any potential contractors. The bid opening is currently scheduled for April 6.

“This is a huge step for the district. This is what we have been waiting for, for many years. It will be a very exciting day. This kind of refuels us, we got excited with the groundbreaking then you have a downtime. Now we have refueled, we feel like we are moving forward and are ready to build a building,” Mantell said.

He said the district would hope to have construction started in early May, and be complete in late summer of 2011.

“We feel there has been a lot of hard work and a lot of effort put in by a lot of people to this point. But, we know that ultimately it’s the greatest thing we can do, for our children here in Clay Township and all Clay students. This is when you start to see the fruits of your labor come together,” Mantell said. “It’s going to be wonderful to see the building come up out of the ground, I think our kids are very much going to enjoy watching it grow day by day.”

Construction has been delayed for several weeks now on the new Portsmouth West Middle School. The district held a bid opening earlier this year and discovered the bids came in 22 percent over original estimates. The district has been looking for ways to cut down the cost of the building while at the same time asking the state (Ohio) for more funding.

“We (Superintendents of the West, New Boston and Clay School Districts) went to the commission (OSFC) on Thursday, (February 25) requesting the amount of money needed for the project,” Patricia Ciraso Washington-Nile Superintendent said. “We have not been told anything since, I do not know what that means.”

She said the district has done value engineering of almost $700,000.

“These items (the items that had to be taken out of the plans for the new building due to value engineering) are necessary for a functional and efficient operation, items such as downgrading from block to drywall between classrooms, no curbing, no electrical gate for better safety at bus time, etc. have been deleted from the project.

Since Ohio School Facilities personnel and the construction manager have informed the district bids around the state are coming in at or below estimate, we believe market conditions in our county are much higher a fact, OSFC Director Richard Murray has publicly stated. We further believe OSFC has a responsibility to correct this market condition of which the district has absolutely no control. Because of this disparity the district is actively trying to convince the OSFC and some legislators of the need to restore the $700,000 to our budget. We find it reprehensible the students in Scioto County will be denied items children all around the state are getting in their projects because of conditions beyond our control,” a released statement from the district stated.

The district hopes to advertise for bids on March 9. “Unless the OSFC will provide assistance immediately, the project’s quality will be greatly jeopardized. The community’s patience with the delays is greatly appreciated as we struggle to obtain the appropriate funding for our building as others in the state of Ohio have had,” Ciraso said.

Rick Savors, Chief of Communications for the OSFC said, “bidding is a difficult thing to fully understand, you’ll have two buildings that are fairly similar in size and structure in two different parts of the state you’ll get great bids on one and you will get not great bids on the other. There can be a hundred different reasons for it including where the buildings are located, how much bid coverage you give, what the local conditions are, along with a variety of other reasons.”

“We are back at the point where the core team is trying to figure out what to do about this. We have given them (West School District) some suggestions and some recommendations on ways we might rebid the project. We are waiting for their lead as to which of the recommendations they would like to move forward with, or if they have other ideas,” Savors said.

New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs has stated the districts new school project has been placed on-hold by the OSFC pending a review of the proposed site. The district is still seeing those frustrations.

“The whole thing has become political, it’s not got the best interest of the kids in mind. I think all of that will be wrapped up very shortly and I think we will be building on our proposed current site,” Staggs said. “I think we just have to be patient.”

He said the district has spent thousands of dollars working with various people exploring other sites.

“If the people involved in this would have the kids in mind when they go into this, it would be a whole lot different,” Staggs said.

At the OSFC meeting last week Staggs said they stated the proposed site for the New Boston School was not suitable and would not give a reason why.

“We’ve got ten computers hooked up to one outlet, we’re blowing circuits. We have 95 year old buildings that are not appropriate. I think the people of New Boston ought to be inflamed,” Staggs said.

“We (OSFC) have had a number of meetings and they are turning into weekly meetings with the core teams. We are going to take a look at the (New Boston) site, and take a look at alternative sites to see if we can’t find one that would be suitable for building. In our mind it’s (the proposed site) not an optimal site for building. Because of the way it sits, the retaining wall and everything else. There are other sites that seem to be out there that would be better suited for this type of structure,” Savors said.

Source:  Allen, Wayne.  “Districts Begin to See Progress on New School Projects.”  Community Common, 7 March 2010, p. 1A.

Superintendents Voice Concerns at Columbus Meeting

Superintendents from Washington-Nile, New Boston and Clay Local schools met with members of the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC), in Columbus, last week to ask for additional funding and resolutions to local school building projects.

Each of the three schools’ building projects are funded largely through the OSFC— who has agreed to pay 81 percent of the total cost of Clay’s new K-2 building, 88 percent for New Boston’s new K-12 building, and a special needs project paying 98 percent to Washington-Nile’s new 5-8 Middle School. The trouble began when bids for Washington-Nile’s new 5-8 middle school building came back 22 percent over its original general contract estimate.

“I am significantly concerned that our bids came in over estimate as largely as it did … when other areas of the state are coming in at, or under, estimate,” Washington-Nile Superintendent Patricia Ciraso said.

Ciraso said the OSFC asked her why she thought her project was over estimate, and whether or not she thought it was because of a Project Labor Agreement that the district has adopted to guarantee prevailing wages for contractors. She said she told them she did not think it was because of the PLA, and said the OSFC and construction manager have all told her that other school districts with PLAs are coming in at, or under, estimate.

The alarmingly high bids returned to Washington-Nile created fears among project managers working for New Boston and Clay, and caused their building estimates to increase in anticipation of higher bids. The higher estimates have required some of the districts to conduct value engineering to cut back on costly building features as a means of keeping their project within their budgets.

But a district can only “value engineer” so much from a building before infringing upon the basic educational needs of its students.

On Thursday, superintendents from all three schools met with members of the commission in Columbus to ask for additional funding to further close the gap still left after value engineering.

Washington-Nile asked for an additional $621,000.

“They are asking us to value engineer such things as changing block between classrooms to sheet rock. We’re talking middle school, where desks get shoved into walls by kids and they kick against it. You know what that will look like in a short time, but they don’t have to worry about the maintenance of it,” Ciraso said.

Clay Superintendent Anthony Mantell attended the meeting to ask for an additional $750,000.

“The very day we actually settled our estimate, and we were going to go to bid six days later, Washington-Nile opened their bids and they were over. So right after that, they wanted us to withdraw ours and we really didn’t want to do that because our fear was if we did that, they would revise our estimate very high and then you’ve got to value engineer,” Mantell said.

As it turned out, Clay did have to revise its estimate and only two-weeks after that original estimate it was increased by $2.5 million. That was later revised again and was then reduced, but was still $1.4 million over the original estimate. The district began value engineering and have cut $650,000 from its plans. Mantell asked the OSFC on Thursday if they would be willing to make-up the remaining $750,000 that was over their original estimate.

“The district will have to pay 19 percent of that,” Mantell said.

He explained that the district absolutely would not ask voters for additional money to supply that 19 percent local share.

“There is a provision that says basically the OSFC will pay the district share after a budget adjustment, and the district will pay them back. It’s an interest-free loan really, is what it comes down to, but that’s not what they call it. Over a 10 year period you would just gradually pay them back,” Mantell said.

He said the estimate is just that — an estimate. The final bid will advertise on March 9 and will be opened later this month, and it may be higher or lower than their current estimate. If the bid comes back lower than estimate, it will not require as large of a budget adjustment. He feels the only reason Clay’s estimate increased at all was because of market projects based on the bids received by Washington-Nile, and not because of anything having to do with Clay.

“Rich Murray, who is the director of the OSFC, said to me on the phone and also said in a commission meeting, and I quote, that we have a difficult bidding environment in south-central Ohio. He went on to explain to me that other places, for example central Ohio, have numerous contractors so there’s more competition. Where down here, the number of contractors are limited. My question to him … was, if contractors in central Ohio have more competition but they’re still bidding and still making a profit, why can’t contractors in south-central Ohio be held accountable to bid in a more reasonable way?” Mantell said.

He echoed Ciraso’s comment that prevailing wage in southern Ohio is comparable to other parts of the state and should not have an impact on bidding.

Both Ciraso and Mantell said they have presented their requests to the OSFC, and were told they would be taken under consideration. No decision regarding their requests have been made, and neither school knows when, or if, such a decision may come.

“We’re supposed to go to bid on the 15th (of March) so if they’re going to do anything I assume it’s going to have to be done in the next week or two,” Ciraso said.

New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs also joined Ciraso and Mantell in Columbus; but he was not there to ask for additional money. Staggs asked the OSFC to answer questions about New Boston’s building project, which has been described as being “on-hold indefinitely” due to the OSFC’s concerns with the district’s building site.

“We were there to get us off hold,” Staggs said. “I asked them to give me some documentation on why the current site is unacceptable, because to-date we nothing that says its unacceptable.”

Staggs said the commission did not provide the answers he went looking for.

“We’ve made a $650,000 investment (on the current building site), and we’ve got to get some answers. Are they going to refund that money if we do go to another site?” he asked.

Staggs said the commission simply repeated what they’ve said all along – that they are not formally rejecting the current building site, located on Lakeview Avenue in New Boston, just yet; but they are asking the district to consider other sites. The OSFC has instead asked that the school board and the Village of New Boston to enter into discussions that would make Millbrook Park available for new school construction.

New Boston Village Council said they would be willing to discuss ideas with the school board, but the school board has made no formal request at this time.

In describing their individual dealings with the OSFC, all three superintendents used the same word.

Frustrating.

Source:  Ottney, Ryan Scott.  “Superintendents Voice Concerns at Columbus Meeting.”  Portsmouth Daily Times, 3 March 2010, p. A1.

Clay’s Groundbreaking Ceremony

Groundbreaking
Frank Lewis, Portsmouth Daily Times

The Clay Local Board of Education, below left, students of Clay Elementary and Middle School, bottom right, and students and teachers of Clay High School, top right, broke ground on new schools Friday.


Students from all three schools, school officials and members of the community, took part in the groundbreaking for the new Clay Local schools Friday morning in front of the current Clay High School.

The students applauded as each guest speaker was announced, and the high school band and chorus entertained those in attendance in the school’s gymnasium.

“This is just an exceptional day for our district,” Clay Local Schools Superintendent Tony Mantell said. “We watched school buildings go up all around us in Scioto County, and we have just yearned for this day for many many years, and it has finally come. We are just appreciative to our citizens here in Clay Township, and all of the support of the trustees, and all of the local authorities. Everybody has been behind us 100 percent. It’s just a great day for children. And that’s really the bottom line.”

Mantell said the goal of the Clay Local school board has always been to “do things right for children.”

Mantell was asked about the time frame involved in completing the project, the excavation of which is well under way.

“We are supposed to take the building over in July of 2011. That’s if things go well,” Mantell said. “You never know what you will run into in construction, but no doubt some time during that school year, we will be in the building — hopefully at the beginning.”

Mantell reflected on his career in education and the importance the new school will play in his life.

“I have been in education a long time, about 33 years, and I have never been through a building project,” Mantell said. “I have worked in a lot of great districts and I have learned a lot from a lot of people. But to finally be a part of building a new facility for children is the highlight of my career.”

One of the people Mantell thanked was Rep. Todd Book, D-McDermott (89th District), currently running for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Book talked to the Times about the importance of the new facilities being constructed.

“Education is the key for a lot of things,” Book said. “It gives people opportunities. It helps the community, because people with opportunities are more likely to have better paying jobs, and all kinds of things. And that starts at this level.”

“The fact that we can have a new school building in the community is just a great thing for us,” Book said. “It’s great for the Clay community. They have been waiting for a while. Now they are there, and I’m just glad to be a part of it. And I know that the results will show in the future as these kids work through a great school and go on to great things.”

At the conclusion of the indoor ceremony, the crowd moved outdoors to the actual groundbreaking ceremony. Three groups, including the dignitaries who had been involved in the presentation, elementary and middle school students and teachers, and high school students and teachers, wearing hard hats, took turns digging a shovel full of dirt and tossing it aside.

Clay Local School Board Vice President Bill Warnock said the cost of the project is in excess of $20 million, and was approved by voters in the March 2008 election.

FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101 Ext. 232

Source:  Lewis, Frank.  “Building for the Future.”  Portsmouth Daily Times, 19 September 2009, p. 1A+.

Clay Schedules Groundbreaking

ncs_conceptA ground breaking for the new building will be held at 1 p.m. on September 18 in the gym of the current high school. At the event there will be speakers along with other various activities.

Wayne Allen, Community Common

On March 4, 2008, voters of Clay Township approved a bond issue that would allow the Clay Local School District to construct a new preK-12 school for the district. The district has unveiled the design of the new school to be constructed in front of the current high school.

“We have the design development, (the final step in design) and we are just about to start on the construction documents, (blueprints),” Tony Mantell, Superintendent of the Clay Local School District said.

He said one of the first considerations that comes into play in designing the building is the land its going to be built on.

“Where we are going to build the building is somewhat terraced. They (architects) designed the building with that in mind,” Mantell said. “We are in the process now of preparing the site, we are in the midst of our early site package. Our building was designed to take advantage of the contour of the land.”

He acknowledged the site is big enough for the new building but also has its limitations.

The district also wanted to make sure they were making the best use of the land available. So the building became two stories.

“The educational wings and the administrative part of the building (will be two stories). The common area of the building, cafetorium and Gym, are by nature two stories high. We believe we have taken advantage of the space by making the building two stories,” Mantell said.

He said the building is uniquely designed and will not be like any other school in Scioto County.

The district has plans to save part of the current high school, due to recent investments and improvements to the space, the gym and surrounding area will be saved.

“In saving part of the old building, the gym and surrounding area (of the current high school) they have designed the building to have that (saved portions of the current high school) blend in behind it,” he said. The saved gym will become a jr. high gym.

The space the district will save of the current high school will not be counted against them in their allocated space by the Ohio High School Facilities Commission.

Once the new building is complete he said the quality of education will be enhanced with added features unavailable to students currently.

“We have one building that’s 80 years old, and other buildings that’s between 50 and 60 years old. you just do not have the modern conveniences in these older buildings,” Mantell said.

A ground breaking for the new building will be held at 1 p.m. on September 18 in the gym of the current high school. At the event there will be speakers along with other various activities.

For more information about the Clay Local School District, call 354-6645 or visit the school’s website (http://www.clay.k12.oh.us)

Allen, Wayne.  “Clay Unveils School Design; Schedules Groundbreaking.”  Community Common, 6 September 2009, p. 1+.