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New Intermediate School Faces Budget Problems

The original renderings for the design of the new Intermediate School were released in 2021. The new facility will be located in close proximity to both Wadsworth High School and Wadsworth Middle School. Photo courtesy of Wadsworth Board of Education.

Construction on the new Intermediate has faced delays due to budget-related setbacks.
Prices of materials have been escalating due to the current economic climate.
“The main issue is what we’re seeing in our economy right now, prices escalating, costs going up,” said Douglas Beeman, Treasurer at Wadsworth City Schools.
The costs of things like prefabricated wood and concrete have skyrocketed.

The original design of the Auditorium had five hundred thousand dollars worth of prefabricated wood. Some of the materials have been changed to painted drywall and painted blocks due to price escalation. Photo courtesy of Wadsworth Board of Education.

The electrical costs have also gone up. When the project began, electrical was only supposed to be $24 per square foot, now the cost has gone up to about $38 per square foot.
They went through the process of schematic designing and came back 26% over the budget. After changes were made in the value engineering stage, they thought they had solved the problem and were under budget. After the detailed design, they were roughly 4-6 million over.
“We went to bid for the bulk of the building, and the bids came in significantly over what was expected,” said Dr. Andrew Hill, Wadsworth City Schools’ Superintendent.
Construction was roughly $12.5 million dollars over budget for hard costs, with the addition of another million in soft costs.
The school board began the process of trying to rectify the issue and reduce costs in July of 2023.

“We went back through with our architects, construction manager, and other consultants, and figured out a way to eliminate roughly five million dollars out of the project cost,” Hill said.
The board went about doing this by finding other sources of funding.
“We looked at other revenue streams that we have here within projects that we were planning to do and freed up some additional dollars, and then the board authorized us to move forward for up to eight million dollars with what is called certificates of participation,” Hill said.
A certificate of participation is money that is collected as a part of the Medina County Sales Tax, which is then set aside for a specific purpose, like school improvements. The certificates of participation are being taken out now against future sales tax dollars. This means the School Board will get the money upfront to pay for the current project and then pay it back over the next ten years.
“The board never discussed going back to the community and asking for more money,” Hill said.

Through this, they were able to reduce about five million dollars from the construction costs.

This was the original sketch for a classroom layout in the new CIS building. This layout may now be altered due to budget issues. Photo Courtesy of The Wadsworth Board of Education.

After certificates of participation and delaying other projects, the board was able to come up with a budget of $14.6 million.
“We wanted to have a little bit of a buffer, about a million dollar buffer, in case when we go back to bid, the prices continue to escalate,” Hill said.
Part of reducing the construction costs involved changing certain aspects of the building design, such as materials.

“We haven’t touched square footage of the building, we haven’t eliminated things that are going to impact the programming that we’re able to offer,” Hill said.
Hill stated that they would not be straying far from the original plan.
“I think we are still going to deliver a building to the community that hits on all the promises that were made,” Hill said. “The facility will be able to accommodate our current student population with room for growth in a way that allows us to utilize the space effectively for all the different programming we do.”
Accommodating the employees and students in the new building was a priority.
“We never looked at ‘What can we do to eliminate people?’, which would then ultimately eliminate programming for the kids, that was never under consideration,” Hill said.
A solution to the problem is collecting interest on the bond that was issued to the community. In November of 2021, a combination issue was passed, it was partially a bond and partially operating money. Operating money goes into the general fund to help pay for expenses.
“That interest is going toward some of those additional costs as well,” Hill said.
This solution was an alternative to saving money using other methods. There was a proposed solution of delaying things like chrome book and bus replacement.

The new cafeteria is built to accommodate the student population of the Intermediate School. The budget cuts should not affect the square footage of the facility. Photo courtesy of Wadsworth Board of Education.

“We were able to stay away from anything that would delay these cycles we’re on, making sure that the things we’re using are as up-to-date as possible,” Hill said.
The earthwork construction will be finished in early October. After that, construction will stop during the winter.
“Nothing’s gonna happen until probably March,” Beeman said.
The project is still on track to finish in August of 2025. The new Intermediate school is planned to be open for the 2025-2026 school year.

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