ELYRIA — A mid-May decision by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission will allow Elyria Schools to tell residents what they want to hear with certainty: that a five-school building plan is a go.
Right now, school board members are very optimistic that the state funding agency will accept the district’s plan. But after telling residents last month that funding concerns could thwart the master plan and then facing swift backlash from the community, board members don’t want to promise anything until they know for sure.
“We really think the OFCC will approve us in May,” said board member Greg Elek. “As long as we can show that we can stay on budget, it rarely happens that they will reject a district’s plan.”
With a target number of $127 million, the district will look at six key areas to save money and keep the project on budget.
Elek said the district is looking at ways to reduce the size of each of the buildings, re-engineer the design of the schools, convert spaces in the new buildings into multipurpose areas, fast-track the construction timeline, buy all materials in bulk and gain cost-savings from the city on building permit fees.
“As we move forward, we will know more,” Superintendent Tom Jama said Wednesday during a school board meeting. “It will not be exactly the same thing as a few months ago. We may still have five schools. They will just look differently.”
In the meantime, board members are still taking steps to move forward with the master plan voters want so they are ready to start the project once the state has signed off. This week, crews razed the former Hamilton School on Middle Avenue and during Wednesday’s meeting board members voted to consolidate multiple parcels on the Middle Avenue site into one parcel —it is against building codes to construct buildings across multiple lots.
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