APS faces significant and costly needs in remaining old school buildings


Akron Public Schools would have to spend at least $113 million just to make roof, HVAC and other repairs necessary for student well-being in 10 of the district’s oldest buildings, according to a draft of a facilities study shared with school board .

By comparison, the district typically only has $1 million to $3 million per year to spend from the general fund on such repairs to buildings that are not community learning centers.

The 10 buildings include eight active schools, including North High and Miller South, but also a closed school building, a former school building now used for administrative offices, and Kenmore-Garfield High, which is expected to be empty of students next year. after the opening of the Garfield Community Learning Center.

Hammond Construction Inc.’s report is not final, but Superintendent Christine Fowler Mack released preliminary information to council members last week. The information is just one part of a larger discussion the district is having about its future, she said. No decision has been made on whether to carry out the majority of the repairs or how to fund them.

North High School's facility needs are estimated at more than $30 million, the superintendent said.

Akron Schools to Review Enrollment, Census Data, Programming

Akron is in the midst of an extensive long-term planning process that will also examine enrollment trends, census data and programming needs, as well as the needs of buildings the district has been unable to replace with centers. community learning opportunities through a partnership with the city and state.

Whether to replace or renovate the remaining buildings, to close them or merge them into new or existing facilities, or any other possible option, is a major question that the district will face in the years to come. .

In the short term, the council will vote Monday on approximately $2.5 million to complete the most urgently needed roof replacements at the Essex and Stewart Early Learning Centers and replace the Essex and District Headquarters parking lots. downtown.

But this fall, Fowler Mack said in an interview with the Beacon Journal, the district is going to have conversations with the school board and the public about how to move forward to meet the needs of facilities in places like North , which has a price for repairs of more than 30 million dollars.

A group of educators and business leaders from across the country recently visited the academic and career academies at North High School in Akron.

At this price, is building a new school a better investment?

“We’re working with our team of professionals to really think about that, but I think that’s also up to each community” to decide, Fowler Mack said.

The most recent new construction of a high school, Garfield CLC, had a price tag of $57 million and will open in the fall. However, project costs have increased since this project went out to tender, so a similar new high school could cost more to build today, depending on the scale of the project. .

Fowler Mack said the $113 million list – which includes a caveat that 10% should be added each year projects are delayed, due to rising construction costs – is only a baseline to meet the needs of keeping students warm, safe and dry at school. While no students are in an unsafe building, she said, schools like North and Miller South lack air conditioning, and many have leaky roofs and other high maintenance needs.

The exterior of North High School in Akron on Friday.

Fowler Mack said she knows community expectations for a school building also go beyond meeting basic needs.

“We understand that facilities create the conditions for high quality teaching and learning,” she said. “It was just to start developing our baseline of what needs to happen as we think about our option sets, which not only take into account just the purpose of the facilities, but also start to take into consideration enrollment trends again.”

The North cluster is the only cluster that has seen growth at the elementary level over the past seven years, according to district data, due to the region’s large immigrant population. How to deal with this growth is another big question the district is trying to answer. One of the buildings replaced by the district, Harris-Jackson, is already so over capacity that the entire kindergarten has been moved to Essex.

Miller South goaltender Dennis Sulzbach plows through the entrance to the Akron school on January 17.

Where to house certain specialty programs is also a question on the list, including the future of Miller South, an arts-focused school that fills all of its seats through open enrollment. His building needs more than $16 million in repairs just for the essentials, according to construction report estimates.

Kenmore-Garfield needs at least $27 million worth of work, the report estimates. The Kenmore community lobbied the school board to do something with the building once all students move into the new Garfield CLC next fall, but no proposal was discussed.

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

Initial repair costs for 10 schools

Hammond Construction estimated repair costs for old APS buildings.

North High – $31.6 million

Miller South Middle – $16.8 million

Kenmore-Garfield High – $27.4 million

Pfeiffer Elementary – $4.5 million

Firestone Park Elementary School — $8.7 million

Essex Early Learning Center – $3.9 million

Stewart Early Learning Center – $3 million

I Promise School (grades 3-8) — $5.4 million

Riedinger (currently hosts Bridges Learning Center and Akron Alternative Academy) – $3.9 million

Ott Building (currently houses administrative offices for specialty programs including APS Online) – $7.8 million

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