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Warren BOE hears building update

VINCENT — The progress of the Warren Local School building project is apparent to anyone driving along State Route 339 south of Barlow. The district’s big consolidated elementary school has been raised its full two stories and roofed, lights visible through the windows after dark.

“It will have more students and staff than any other building in the county,” Warren Superintendent Kyle Newton said Monday night. Newton said next month the board will approve the 2020-2021 school calendar; the school will be ready for use this fall.

“All the bearing walls are up, every interior trade has spent time in it, all roofing will be finished by the end of January,” he said. “We have paint on the walls.”

Newton said the split-stone facade will be finished by the end of February.

It’s been a long wait for Warren, whose voters approved a 4.96 mill levy in May 2017 after years of failed attempts by the district to get local funding for new schools. The project, at an estimated total cost of $63 million, will build a new high school and elementary school and extensively refit the middle school on the main district campus on Warrior Drive. Warren Elementary and Little Hocking Elementary will close.

The high school, Newton said, has the bases of the exterior walls raised out of the ground and is ready for plumbing and utility connections to be placed, after which the floors can be poured. The high school is scheduled to be ready for the 2021-22 school year.

The middle school project, for the time being, is held in abeyance, he said. The project went out to bid two months ago and the district was shocked by how much the bids exceeded the amount it had expected.

“We brought in another consultant, Resource International, they specialize in pre-construction estimating and plan design review,” he said. “They could find nothing that would make the building more efficient or less costly. Everything in that plan is critical.”

Because the middle school is a renovation rather than new construction, the building will be repaired to the extent needed for use in the fall, and the major renovation project put out to bid again near the end of this year or in early 2021, he said.

“At that point, we’ll know what we’re going to save in the high school and elementary project and how much of the contingency we can apply,” he said. “And the construction market is insane right now; you can’t even get houses built. We hope it slows down by then.”

Newton said that to date more than 60,000 man-hours have been put into construction.

Board vice president Sidney Brackenridge said the work that has gone into the project is difficult to calculate.

“When you go by that building, you don’t realize how many people, how many hours went into it,” he said.

On Monday night, the board also held its annual organizational meeting, with trustees being sworn in for another year – no new board members were chosen in the November election – and Bob Crum being elected president and Brackenridge being elected vice president, both taking offices they held last year.

The board is scheduled to meet next at 6 p.m. Feb. 18 in the administrative offices on Sweetapple Drive in Vincent.

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