by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, July 2018) The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) has placed the last two segments (Segments Eight and Nine) of its Master Facilities Plan on hold while it tries to resolve a dispute with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) over how much the state will contribute to adjusting for the higher construction costs in Cleveland.
Cleveland Metropolitan School District Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon says in the first six segments of the CMSD Facilities Plan the OFCC added between 12% and 16% to its portion of the facilities plan costs to adjust for Cleveland’s higher construction costs. Now, says Gordon the OFCC wants to have equal costs per square foot across the entire State of Ohio and not account for higher construction costs in the City of Cleveland. Gordon says this will add millions of dollars to the cost to CMSD that the OFCC says it will not reimburse.
Based on a formula developed in 2002 when the plan started, the state pays 68% of OFCC approved costs for the CMSD Facilities Plan. CMSD pays the remaining 32%, plus any unapproved costs.
The dispute with the OFCC also delayed some of the construction in Segment Seven. In the area served by the Plain Press, the major delay that occurred is in the building of the West Side Replacement High School on the site of the old Max Hayes on Detroit Avenue. The CMSD negotiations with the OFCC reached a compromise with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission agreeing to pay a 7% market adjustment to CMSD for Segment 7.
CEO Gordon says the 11-month delay in Segment 7 cost the CMSD an additional $384,000 in increased construction costs. He estimates the reduced market adjustment (a reduction from about 14% to 7%) from the OFCC for Segment 7 will result in $10 million in additional costs for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
Gordon says CMSD now plans to finish Segment 7 at the 7% market adjustment rate agreed to by the OFCC. This means the West Side High School will be built on the old Max Hayes site.
Other projects in Segment 7 in the Plain Press service area include the demolition of the Old Max Hayes, Waverly, Halle and Waterson Lake buildings and new construction of the H. Barbara Booker Pre-K to 8 school at the Halle School site, and the construction of Waverly Pre-J-8 school at the old Waverly site. Much of Segment 7 is already underway.
Plans for renovation or new construction of a number of schools in the Plain Press service area for schools in Segments Eight and Nine are now on hold while CMSD works to resolve its dispute with the OFCC.
In Segment Eight the renovation of Joseph Gallagher PreK-8 and new construction of Marion Selzer and Lincoln West High School are now on hold.
In Segment Nine new construction for Clark, Denison and Tremont PreK-8 schools are now on hold.
CEO Eric Gordon would like the OFCC to go back to paying the market adjustments of 12-16% that it has paid in the past. Otherwise, depending on what new adjustment the OFCC agree to provide, the district could face between $22 and $34 million in additional costs for Segments Eight and Nine.
Gordon urged residents to lobby on behalf of the CMSD. Concerned citizens can go to the CMSD website to obtain a sample letter to send to members of the Ohio legislature and also attend an OFCC Conference in Independence Ohio on August 16th.
Gordon says CMSD cannot afford to go ahead with Segments 8 and 9 without the market adjustments. He says the OFCC change in the adjustments resulted from the OFCC hiring of Executive Director David M. Williamson in 2015. Williamson does not believe in market adjustments, says Gordon.
In addition to the public lobbying of the state legislature, Gordon says the CMDS’ options in trying to get the market adjustment it wants are to directly lobby the current Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to which Williamson reports or to wait it out until a new governor appoints new commissioners and a new OFCC executive director is hired.
In addition to the changes in Segments Eight and Nine of the Facilities Plan that may result from the dispute with the OFCC, Gordon says the Board of Education will consider the recommendation by the Bond Accountability Commission that it re-examine and revise its Master Plan based on: “current neighborhood population and enrollment patterns; changes in academic programming; and rising construction costs.” The Cleveland Metropolitan School District plans to have fall meetings to get community input on new planning for Segments Eight and Nine.