Chagrin Falls School Board Approves Contract for Bus Garage Design Services
CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — The Chagrin Falls School District is moving forward with the design of a new maintenance and transportation facility and related site improvements with an estimated budget of $2.5 million.
On Wednesday, May 18, the Chagrin Falls School Board approved a contract with ThenDesign Architecture (TDA) for professional design services in the amount not to exceed $290,000 for the proposed installation.
But according to the resolution, the board is currently only committing $181,000 of that total for the design portion and studies related to the project.
While Willoughby-based TDA has offered $290,000 for design work and construction administration, the council does not want to encumber funds for TDA’s construction services until he looks at a design and is confident that the project will not exceed $2.5 million.
Board member Robert E. Schleper Jr., who chairs the board’s capital planning committee, said the committee recommended committing $181,000 to the design and appeal process. proposed project bids.
“It gives us some time to investigate the exact cost, as we’re not sure until we’ve gone through the bidding process,” he said.
Schleper said that although TDA estimated a cost of about $2.5 million for the installation, the problem is that material and construction costs have increased “significantly” over the past year. .
“So we’re good stewards of the district’s finances,” he said.
Council Vice-Chair Lori Bendall asked if this meant the council was not yet committed to moving forward with construction of the bus garage project.
“We do the design and take bids, but we’re not saying we’re definitely doing the construction,” said Lauren Miller, board member and member of the Capital Planning Committee.
According to the resolution, $109,000 of the proposed $290,000 for which the board is not earmarking funds includes the costs of “construction and closing deliverables” and construction testing.
The board will revert to continuing construction of the project once costs are received, the resolution says.
The Capital Planning Committee shared its recommendations for the next steps in the process during the council business session on May 4.
The proposed site for the facility is at Gurney Elementary School, 1155 Bell Road, and it would combine maintenance and transportation in one building.
Currently, the District Transportation Facility, or Bus Garage, is located in Gurney. Its maintenance building is on the campus of Chagrin Falls High School at 400 E. Washington St.
In September, when the council approved a contract with TDA for pre-design work on the proposed facility, Ryan Schmit, project architect for TDA, told the council that the existing bus garage is small and cramped with limited storage space and limited space for drivers and staff. . He added that it needed to be repaired.
In the proposed project, the bus garage would grow from one bay for buses to two full bays, and there would be much larger rooms for personnel and storage, Schmit said.
Superintendent Jennifer Penzcarski said the district is lucky the bus garage is functional in its current state and therefore “we have time.”
Informed by previous experience
Penczarski noted in her former district, Kenton City Schools – where she served as superintendent from 2010 until last July when she came to Chagrin Falls – that they were forced to either build a new bus garage or find another solution because the building was “falling down.”
“So ours was a real sense of urgency to do,” she said. “When we bought land to build new buildings, we actually made space to build a bus garage.
“We were at a point where we had to decide what our real needs for a bus garage were. Our needs were obviously different.
Penczarski said the schools in Kenton had more buses than the schools in Chagrin Falls, so a larger space and design was required, and the cost of the project was higher.
“But we weren’t really comfortable with the prices that everyone was guessing at,” she said. “We decided to put it on an actual design and figure out exactly what we would need.
“Once we did that, we launched it for some deals, and the cost was really high.”
About two months after going through that process, a “really nice warehouse” opened up as vacant and available space in Kenton, Penczarski said.
“We had our buses and our schools right next to this space, and it was so much more profitable to renovate this warehouse,” she said. “But we might not have known that, or even sought out what’s best for our taxpayers, if we hadn’t had that drawing.”
“So we knew exactly what we needed and had very good estimates of what it was going to cost.”
Along the same lines, Penczarski said, the council’s capital planning committee, after seeing many different designs and many discussions, finally asked, “What does Chagrin Falls need?”
“The committee, which has experts sitting on it, said that this was finally the design we needed,” she said. “We need two bays, we need space for storage, we need an office for the transport manager and we need space for two mechanics that we have.
“And so they finalized it, and that was it. The whole committee came to a working session of the board (May 4) and presented it and said, “This is the space we need.”
The contract the board approved Wednesday was based on that design, Penczarski said.
“So now that we know this is what we need, let’s get a real picture and see what it’s really going to cost,” she said. “We have to go through strategic planning.
“We don’t even know if it’s still a priority, so we can put numbers behind things or rough ideas, because who knows what construction will cost tomorrow.”
Penczarski said she was “a little nervous” that people would think the district is going to build a bus garage starting in June or July, based on the committee’s recommendations during the work session.
“That’s not the case at all,” she said. “It’s just about finalizing that design and saying, ‘This is what Chagrin Falls needs,’ and then going through that process of when is the right time to build, if that’s our top priority.
“And also, ‘Is this the right place and the best space?’ I’m only in this mindset because I know how we’ve changed (at Kenton).
“I don’t know if there is any space that we could move or renovate. But we just kept our options wide open, and when we had to act, we did.
Board member Kathryn Garvey said that due to corporate planning and the work of the Capital Planning Committee, the board knew what its “high priority facility projects” were.
“We also know that there are projects outside of our regular budget, and this is one of those projects that isn’t quite on the threshold where you would reach out to the community for a show. bonds or a (continuous improvement) fund issue,” she said. .
“So we started putting money aside, and in four years we’ve put aside a few million dollars, so we can absorb that into our budget and not have to go to the community for taxes. additional – hopefully. ”
Board chair Sharon Broz noted that the district had used TDA for professional design services in the past and was comfortable with the company.
Strategic planning update
Also on Wednesday, Penczarski offered a preview and reminder of the in-person community engagement roundtables that are scheduled for Thursday, May 19 at Chagrin Falls High School and Tuesday, May 24 at Chagrin Falls Middle School.
This is the culmination of the first phase of the district’s strategic planning process.
Penczarski said the roundtables will be opportunities for stakeholders – staff, students, parents, alumni and the community – to come together, listen to and learn from each other.
Each session is scheduled for 90 minutes and will have a maximum of 100 people.
Denise Snowden, Executive Director of Coach to Lead, will moderate the sessions. Coach to Lead, a Columbus-based company, was hired by the board in January to help guide the strategic planning process.
“All are welcome to attend and provide input on how we can improve what we do for our students, both in education and experience,” Penczarski said. “Most importantly, you give us feedback, and your feedback always makes us better.”
More information about the roundtables and the strategic planning process can be found on the home page of the district’s website, chagrinschools.org.