Build or Renovate

The Ohio Facility Construction Commission (OFCC) and outside agencies assessed the current buildings and found all to be in need of repairs so extensive, it is cheaper and more responsible to build new facilities. In order for this determination to be given, the cost of renovation must be at least 2/3 of the cost to build. At that point it is considered more fiscally responsible to build new facilities. Our buildings exceed that 66% threshold.

New construction is actually cheaper for many reasons. The current buildings would need extensive infrastructure upgrades. Things like electric, heating/cooling/air quality, roofs, water, and sewage would all need to be completely redone before visible renovations could take place. In addition, buildings would need to be brought up to all current building codes and Americans with Disability Act regulations. Of course, new structures would meet all of these. Current security and technology expectations would need to be provided. Parent drop off and bus loading and unloading need to have separate spaces. Any possible asbestos would have to be abated.

OFCC would match some of the renovation, but, not as much so the taxpayers would have to provide a much larger amount. Reasons for this include Brent is considered too small to renovate. They will not match funds for a school smaller than 450 students and Brent’s capacity is about 300. All renovations at Brent would be paid 100% by the taxpayers. Brent has 35,741 square feet.

Brent’s square footage would count in our total. The OFCC looks at enrollment and allots square footage per child based on grade level. More for high school since they are bigger and less for elementary because they are smaller. That total amount of square footage is all they would consider matching in a renovation.

Current plans are based on the enrollment last year of 1418 for the district. The total square footage they are currently allotting us is 195,603. If our enrollment goes up before we build the high/middle school, they will allot more square footage they will match funding for. For now, let’s use these totals.

There is unusable space at Whitaker and Secondary campus for various reasons but most areas would still have to be renovated and abated. The current square footage is:

Brent                                     35,741

Whitaker                             66,084

Secondary Campus      174,774

                Total                      276,599

By enrollment of 1418 OFCC would match 60% of                                              195,603 square feet

                Minus the square footage of Brent                                                            35,741 square feet

                           Total square footage they will pay 60% to renovate           159,862 square feet

Total current sq. ft.                                                        276,599

Total they will match 60% funding for               159,862

The remaining square footage                    116,737

The community would have to pay 40% of 159,862 square feet renovation costs for existing buildings and OFCC would pay 60%.

The community would have to pay 100% of the cost to renovate the remaining 116,737 square feet because it exceeds the allotted square footage from OFCC. I know it seems out of whack but that is the reality.

There are more variables that effect building vs renovation, of course. Renovation would not do anything for the secondary campus layout with 96 exterior doors so wouldn’t be as helpful with safety. It wouldn’t help reduce the roof square footage thus decreasing the future leak issues. It may not be able to help with the flooding at Whitaker when it rains so hard the retention pond fills and water backs up into the school; it even busted in a metal door a little over a year ago if you remember. The district has addressed the flooding in as many ways as we can with the existing building.

Based on the estimates provided the district from OFCC and outside experts calculated on current cost per square foot, it would cost Finneytown tax payers 10-13 million dollars more to renovate than to build. Not saying the total project costs would be that much more. That is what we, the taxpayers, would have to pay above and beyond the cost to build new. It would still require a bond issue to pass to secure funding to make the renovations. OFCC would still match 60% as I mentioned above, but for less of the project so they would not contribute nearly as much and the cost would be more. They would contribute between 6 and 8 million less. The project would cost 4-5 million more. Any way you look at it, the community does not come out ahead.

Someone mentioned Over the Rhine and restoring old homes and businesses. Finneytown schools are not designate historical buildings like many in the OTR area were and are. If you look into any of the renovations, it costs much more to renovate than it would to knock down and build new, especially with historical designations because there are so many restrictions about how to renovate. At least that does not apply in Finneytown. But, as I mentioned, all building renovated would have to be brought up to code.

More next week.