The newly created Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) will be going before the Controlling Board Monday to request funds to help move the entity into the William Green Building in Columbus.
The new commission is a combination of the former State Architect’s Office, which had offices on Surface Road in Columbus, and the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which leased space at 10 W. Broad St. The combined entity will have its offices on the fourth floor of the building located at 37 W. Spring St.
The Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) is requesting the transfer of $72,667 from its office space planning fund for the relocation. In its request, the agency notes that the relocation “will support an initiative to fill state-owned buildings where vacancies exist.”
The new commission discussed the move at its last meeting, saying it plans to be in the new offices by December.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) announced the state’s third education facility to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
OSFC funded the middle-high school project in Hamilton County’s North College Hill City School District with a combination of local and state funds. Commission Executive Director Richard Hickman said the district cleared a high bar to become a Platinum school.
“This project was completed within budget, with the full complement of education components incorporated into the building, and it was able to achieve this elite LEED rating,” Hickman said. “North College Hill Middle-High School is a great example of what can happen when a team embraces integrated project delivery and works together towards constructing an energy-efficient, sustainable and healthy environment for students, teachers and staff.”
The North College design stresses significant energy savings with high-efficiency HVAC equipment, strategic building orientation, and natural light. The school also features solar panels producing approximately five of its energy needs, and was constructed with products and materials that are environmentally friendly, regionally obtained and inclusive of recycled content. As a result, the construction team was able to divert 918 tons of waste from the area landfill.
The district is an urban community whose education facilities have been consolidated at a single site, with physical education separating the age groups. North College Hill Elementary, also on the campus, recently achieved LEED Gold certification.
The middle-high school joins London Middle School in London City School District and Taft Information Technology High School in Cincinnati as Ohio’s only public school buildings to achieve LEED Platinum certification.
With 70 requests on the agenda, the Controlling Board held 10 items for further questioning during Monday’s meeting. That included a request by Bowling Green State University (BGSU) for $6.9 million to continue its academic buildings rehabilitation project. The proposal from BGSU requests money for the use of three companies: two from Ohio and one from New York. Jones Lang LaSalle, from Columbus, would be contracted for executive program manager services. The Lathrop Company, of Maumee, would provide executive construction manager services. The third, Perkins Eastman Architects, of New York, would be used for executive architect/engineer services. The executive team will oversee the renovations and adaptive reuse for several of BGSU’s academic buildings, which include University Hall, Moseley Hall, Hanna Hall, and South Hall. According to the proposal, additional renovations are planned for Eppler Hall, Olscamp Hall and the building that currently houses the College of Business Administration. However, there are also plans for a new building to be constructed and become the new facility to house the business administration school.
Sen. Chris Widener (R-Springfield) noted that he recognized the name Perkins Eastman and he knew it to be a well-known national firm but he asked BGSU Associate Vice President for Capital Planning and Design Steven Krakoff why the school chose them over other Ohio firms. Krakoff said Perkins Eastman will drive the efforts of space planning and programming in the academic space and continue the work of concept design in the buildings. He added that other Ohio firms will have the ability to carry out those plans when it comes to the implementation phase.
Krakoff said that Ohio firms will receive the “bulk of the fees” during the process as a whole. Wanting an explanation for why BGSU is going out of Ohio for the executive architect/engineer services role, Rep. John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) asked if Perkins Eastman had skills that other architects are not able to do or if the firm was more cost effective. The BGSU associate vice president explained that it was “a little bit of both.” Krakoff noted that Perkins Eastman brought the experience of working on more than 150 campuses. He also said that the work that BGSU is expecting out of the firm is not common among other firms.
Carney said that he appreciated Krakoff’s response and understood the reasoning, however, he added that if other Ohio firms keep losing out to out-of-state firms like Perkins Eastman then they will never get to build the track record that BGSU was looking for. “I know that between engineering firms and architecture firms it seems like a lot of our state campuses are bringing in folks from outside of Ohio and they’re essentially saying — ‘look I was educated at Bowling Green, I got my engineering degree I got my architecture degree at Ohio State University and yet these very same institutions will not hire us to do the work,'” said Carney, who noted that these types of decisions may result in Ohio-based engineers and architects leaving the state to look for work elsewhere.
Carney also had questions for the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODAg) request for $1 million for capital improvements at its Reynoldsburg campus. The representative asked why the funds for improvements were not included in the capital budget. Janelle Mead, ODAg deputy director, said that preparation of the capital budget occurred under a previous department director and when current ODAg director David Daniels took office he asked each division to examine their individual needs. Mead explained that the request listed items that are needed now rather than waiting for the next capital budget. Carney suggested that some of the items in the request appeared to be important improvements that should have been requested in past budgets. Mead responded by saying she agreed with Carney but that there were other priorities that needed to be addressed first.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) has begun the process of merging staff with the Ohio Architect’s Office under a new Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) that was created to oversee state building projects under HB487 (Amstutz), the Mid-Biennium Review bill.
Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Tim Keen, who serves as chair of the OSFC, laid out the process for the merging of the staffs during Thursday’s OSFC meeting. Under the administration’s plans, both staffs would serve under the OFCC banner with one executive director overseeing the agency. The OFCC would also have an oversight commission made up of the OBM Director, the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) director and an appointment made by the governor.
Keen also said the plan is to keep some of the functions of OSFC separate to recognize the importance of the state’s school construction program. The school facilities commission would still exist as it is currently constituted under state law, but under resolutions passed by the commission Thursday, the panel would not approve contracts as it currently does. Instead, that authority would fall to the OFCC executive director, and the OSFC would have a “policy making, policy setting and oversight role.”
Both commissions would meet quarterly, likely on the same day back-to-back. Keen said that an organizational meeting of the new OFCC would be held on Sept. 10, the effective date of portions of HB487, and an executive director would be named then by the OFCC. OSFC’s final meeting this year will be held on Oct. 25. The 2013 calendar includes meetings set for Jan. 24, April 25, July 11 and Oct. 24.
“Essentially we will have that one contracting process, one set of documents, one set of procedures that will cover both school facilities and the other facilities generally,” Keen has said. “The School Facilities Commission continues to exist, and will continue to meet to provide broad, programmatic oversight, to provide programmatic direction, to provide policy direction, on the school program. The Facilities Construction Commission will provide that on all the non-school programs.”
He said the merger will occur “pretty promptly” with pre-planning already underway. Staffs of the OSFC and the state architect’s office are expected to move into a new space in the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation building in November.
The School Facilities Commission also discussed possible changes to its energy conservation program, more commonly known as the HB264 Program after the implementing legislation passed in the mid-1980s.
The discussion was prompted during a presentation on two more awards under the program when DAS Director Bob Blair asked about what is being done to promote the program and how school districts find possible savings.
OSFC Executive Director Richard Hickman said that currently, many school districts are approached by an energy consultant who may promote projects that can be performed with savings to pay off the debt of those projects. He said the OSFC has begun reviewing that process and is planning to present the commission with a report by the end of the year. He noted that current law for state agencies requires a contractor to pay the state for savings not realized by the projects, but that is not the case for school projects in the HB264 program.
After the meeting, Hickman said that the review will look at how the energy conservation contracting process works for state agencies and for school facilities, and will look for common ways to improve and streamline the process. He also said the review will look to see if it is better to have school districts require energy consultant to guarantee the savings in the contract like state agencies currently require.
“It will take some analysis. It will take some discussion with organizations that represent school districts — there’s the School Boards Association, there’s the Buckeye Association of School Administrators — that represent various aspects of school administration. We won’t do this in isolation,” Hickman said.
He said there currently is no competitive requirement for contracts awarded through the program, and that is one thing the review will focus on.
“There’s a lot of aspects we need to look at, and if we can conform that and make them very similar without creating other issues, that’s what we’re looking for,” he said. Hickman said some changes may require legislation.
In other action, the commission approved a resolution updating the exceptional program guidelines to conform it with SB316 (Lehner), and heard a presentation on OSFC’s update to its vision and mission to reflect the current direction of the commission. It also approved more than $22.5 million in construction trade contracts. The 37 contracts were for work in 20 school districts.
The historically high number of school levies on the Aug. 7 ballot proved no more fruitful than years past with 31% of issues approved by voters.
The August special election featured 36 school tax issues around Ohio, which is a high for August elections over the past five years, according to Support Ohio Schools. Eleven of those issues received majority support.
Of the 26 additional operating levies, six passed at a rate of 23%. Six of seven renewals were successful, and all three school construction issues failed as did a permanent improvement levy, the group reported.
August special elections are plagued by low turnout as voters are often on vacation, so low passage rates have been the norm.
“August election results followed a typical pattern with districts experiencing limited success,” Ohio School Boards Association Director of Legislative Services Damon Asbury said in a release. “The major take-away is that districts must still continue to try due to budget shortfalls.”
The 23% rate for additional operating funds, however, is below the historical average of 35%, Support Ohio Schools said. That figure is double last year’s August passage rate of 10.5% but a drop from the 46% passage rate of those issues in March.
“Wild swings in election results are becoming the norm,” SOS Executive Director Jerry Rampelt said. “Even in this election there are surprising results. Groveport Madison in the Columbus area and Brecksville Broadview Heights just south of Cleveland had over 70% of the electorate support their levies.
“Contrast this to the 18% positive vote in the Jefferson Local Schools near Ashtabula and 14% positive vote in Osnaburg Schools near Canton. Both Brecksville and Groveport have had recent difficulties in passing levies. The one vote loss (222 to 223) in Jackson Center Local Schools in Shelby County was disheartening.”
OSBA sees the increase in overall school levy requests as related to decreases in state funding, declining revenues and a lackluster economy.
“Ohio public schools are facing unprecedented funding challenges,” OSBA Executive Director Rick Lewis said. “In many cases, school districts have no choice but to turn to their communities to help maintain the high-quality instruction and services residents have come to expect.”
Greg Lawson, Buckeye Institute statehouse liaison and policy analyst, said the levy results are a “resounding message” from taxpayers.
“Clearly, taxpayers have yet to be convinced that many school districts are making the kind of reforms necessary to justify digging deeper in their wallets,” he said in an email. “This even after the ‘sky is falling’ mantra that is being pushed across the state.
“The bottom line is that failure to reform collective bargaining last year does not mean that reform is no longer needed. District officials and school boards should be the first ones demanding changes instead of complaining about Columbus politicians.”
The Ohio Municipal League said school levies faired better that local tax requests from communities. Twenty one of the tax issues were for police and/or fire, emergency medical services, road repair or local government operations.
“Our folks continue to struggle with getting voters’ approval to increase income tax rates to even do some special levies,” OML spokesman Kent Scarrett said in an interview. “We’ve known that our residents are just at their limit of taxation and it’s going to be difficult next year when we see greater cuts in the local government fund and the phase out of the estate tax.
“The trend right now obviously isn’t where tax payers are willing to increase these levels,” which makes circumstances more difficult for local governments.
Voters approved less than one third of all school funding proposals on Tuesday’s ballot, though the 31.5 percent passage rate was actually an improvement over last year’s special election. Several school districts in two of Ohio’s largest counties succeeded in passing levies by a wide margin, while a pair of new funding packages in Summit County failed.Of 35 total funding proposals in the form of levies, bonds, income taxes, or some combination of the three, local voters approved 11 packages. Franklin County saw $7.7 million in new funding for Groveport Madison Local Schools, where residents passed a 9.96 mill continuing levy with over 70 percent of the vote. The margin was even greater in Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District in Cuyahoga County, where voters renewed a three-year combination levy for permanent improvements and operating expenses — 1 mill and 5.8 mills, respectively — with nearly 74 percent of the vote.The latest available information from the Ohio School Boards Association Wednesday added the following wins:– Bethel Local Schools, Miami County: 2 mill renewal over five years for permanent improvements, with 57 percent of the vote; new “replacement” funding of 7 mills over five years for operating expenses, with 52 percent of the vote.
– Buckeye Local Schools, Medina County: new emergency funding of 7.9 mills over five years for operating expenses, with nearly 63 percent of the vote.
– Clear Fork Valley Local Schools, Richland County: new income tax of 1 percent over five years for operating expenses, with less than 52 percent of the vote.
– Dalton Local Schools, Wayne County: 2 mill renewal levy over five years for permanent improvements, with nearly 56 percent of the vote.
– Lake Local Schools, Wood County, new funding of 6.75 mills over three years for operating expenses, with 52 percent of the vote.
– Margaretta Local Schools, Erie County: 1.5 mill renewal levy over five years for permanent improvements, with nearly 54 percent of the vote.That compares to an August 2011 passage rate of roughly 26 percent. Buckeye Valley Local School District in Delaware County failed to pass a combination of new income taxes and bonds — .25 percent over five years and 3.5 mills over 28 years, respectively — pulling barely 28 percent of the vote. The package would have cost taxpayers $30 million.Edon Northwest Local Schools in Williams County and Jackson Center Local Schools in Shelby County also failed to pass new income taxes. Jackson Center failed by a single vote, according to OSBA, setting up a possible recount, while Edon Northwest drew a respectable 38 percent in favor of the combination income tax and levy.“The one vote loss (223 to222) in Jackson Center Local Schools in Shelby County was disheartening,” said Executive Director Jerry Rampelt of Support Ohio Schools Research and Education Foundation.All three school construction issues on the ballot also failed.“August school levies traditionally have a low passage rate,” Support Ohio Schools said in a statement, noting the 20.8 percent rate for “additional” operating funds is below the historical average of 35 percent while nearly double the August 2011 rate of 10.5 percent. “It is a steep decline, however, when compared to the 46 percent passage rate of additional operating issues in March of 2012.”Support Ohio Schools said it considers a school levy as new or additional if it generates more revenue and does not renew an existing levy. It also noted reported results are the latest available and not official results certified by the Ohio Secretary of State.
More than 15 years after its creation, the Ohio School Facilities Commission has invested nearly $10 billion in state and local funds to replace and repair school buildings once rated the worst in the nation.
“As it stands, we’re about half done,” said Richard Hickman, executive director of the commission.
“If we are able to fund about 25 districts each year and those districts are able to secure their local share to move forward with construction, we think it will take until 2025.”
Wrought from the 1997 court ruling finding Ohio’s system of funding public schools unconstitutional, the massive construction program was created to aid all 614 school districts and 49 joint vocational districts. Starting with the poorest districts, the state has been working through a list of projects, with work beginning after local voters approve levies to provide matching funds.
Overall, nearly 1,000 schools have been built or renovated since the commission was created in 1997. Funds have been offered to about 450 districts, Hickman said, with about 100 unable so far to secure local matching funds.
When the commission was approved by state lawmakers, the work ahead may have seemed insurmountable. A 1995 General Accounting Office survey of 10,000 school buildings nationwide singled out Ohio’s as being in the worst condition.
State officials predicted all work on Ohio’s schools would be completed by 2012.
It was an ambitious timeline and, like most construction projects, prone to delay, most recently because of the economic recession.
The poorest districts had to come up with relatively small amounts of matching funds, but as wealthier districts began to qualify and the local contribution grew, the economy stalled and voters became less willing to approve tax increases for school construction.
But Hickman said the program appears to be picking up steam again.
Last month, the commission approved $1.1 billion in school construction projects for the current fiscal year, nearly double the value of projects approved last year. The 27 districts selected for funding plan to construct 43 new buildings and renovate nine existing ones, with the state contribution averaging 44 percent.
“We’ve got six who already have their funding (approved) and four more lined up to go to the ballot in August and November,” Hickman said. “Last year at this time, only four districts had their funding.”
Among the districts ready to start building projects are South-Western and Lancaster schools, where voters earlier this year approved money for new buildings.
In South-Western, ground will be broken next year for 13 new elementary schools, a new high school and renovations to two elementary schools. The state will provide $120 million of the $268 million for the project, with local taxpayers picking up the rest.
Five new elementary schools will be built in Lancaster, with the state covering about one-third of the $88 million project.
Among the new projects also is the commission’s first STEM school, the Dayton Regional STEM school, where an old store will be renovated into classrooms.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) Thursday gave approval to the first construction contract that uses new construction reform rules passed in HB153 (Amstutz), the biennial budget.
Southern Local School District in Meigs County gets the distinction of being the first project under OSFC’s Classroom Facilities Assistance Program to use an alternative project delivery option. The project includes a new high school addition to the existing Southern Elementary School.
The project was one of 88 construction trade contracts that were approved at Thursday’s meeting. The panel unanimously adopted more than $90 million in contracts that will go towards school construction and renovation work in 22 school districts.
Ohio Department of Administrative Services Director Bob Blair, a member of the commission, asked what kind of savings the district will see by using a single prime contractor. Jon Walden, manager of contracts and compliance, said that it will take time for the district to know the full cost savings because it is the first time for such a contract.
OSFC Executive Director Richard Hickman said in a statement released later that more than a dozen other school districts are considering using one or more of the alternative construction delivery methods adopted in HB153.
In other action, the panel approved seven school districts for participation in the OSFC’s energy conservation savings program, also known as the “HB264 program.” The districts include Auburn Career Center in Lake County; Blanchester Local in Clinton County; Dalton Local in Wayne County; Lakewood Local in Licking County; Lorain County Joint Vocational District in Lorain County; Noble Local in Noble County; and Tecumseh Local in Clark County.
Mike Mendenhall, deputy chief of projects, said staff had originally planned to present two projects, but five more were added after additional technical reviews were completed. Some of the projects include guarantees from the energy consultant that Mendenhall said assures that the savings promised will be realized. If not, the energy consultant must make up the difference. In answer to a question to Blair, he said there is an additional cost for the guarantee, but it’s very minimal and goes toward monitoring costs. He told Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) that the cost of providing the guarantee can be built into the project.
The OSFC approved changes to its FY13 project agreement templates that reflect changes in law as part of the Mid- Biennium Review Bills, including construction reform, maintenance program, prorated half mill maintenance, and abandoned facilities changes. The last one states that a district has three options for abandoning a facility: convert it to a non-education use, transfer or sell the property, or demolish all or a portion of the facility.
The commission also honored Jerry Kasai, OSFC’s chief legal counsel, who is retiring after 30 years of work for the state. He also served with the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, the Department of Administrative Services, the attorney general’s office, and two different stints at OSFC.
Hickman said Kasai played a significant and key role in development and implementation of policies and procedures at OSFC.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) Thursday approved changes to its design manual that includes allowing for wireless Internet connections in classrooms. The changes to the 2012 manual were made based upon 118 suggestions, Franklin Brown of OSFC told members of the commission.
Brown said previously, OSFC’s design manual required a wired connection for classrooms, but changes to technology has caused the commission to pull the trigger and allow for wireless. “We feel that wireless technology has come of age,” he said, noting that many school districts have already began implementing wireless in their buildings for students and staff to use.
Where previous technology could lag, he said current technology allows up to 25 students working on their devices at once to utilize one wireless hub. He also noted that an analysis of the cost of wireless found that once the cost of furniture, equipment and space for a wired connection was factored in, the cost of wireless is about equal.
Among the other changes to the manual:
– Removed the use of unit ventilators as a type of air condition. Brown said the units are like those you find in hotels and said there are a number of reasons for the removal, including the noise;
– Heights of gymnasiums changed to limit the trusses above the floor;
– Requires certification of air barrier systems by a national agency. Brown said the systems were added in last year’s update, and now they will be inspected and certified.
– Wood windows added back in to the design manual. Brown said they were removed a few years ago because of a failure in one project, but it has been determined that failure was because of a design issue.
– Limits gymnasium lighting to fluorescent lights. Brown said they found those lights are more efficient than HID lights and they come on instantaneous instead of warming up over a few minutes.
– Polished concrete was added as an approved flooring.
– Includes construction reform requirements adopted in biennial budget bill HB153 (Amstutz).
– Gives designers the ability to reduce square footage of buildings when they still meet program requirements.
– Creates summary check sheets to determine how much parking a site can have before it must solely use local funding.
– Updates the student learning environment planning process and adds planning process templates.
Brown also said construction costs have not changed this year from last except for a 2.62 percent increase in inflation.
In other action, the commission approved three settlements on lawsuits related to construction projects, including one in the Wellston City School district, where construction manager BBL-Maescher’s insurer agreed to pay $1.44 million to settle a suit that claimed “breaches of the professional standard of care and contractual breaches in the administration of the project.”
OSFC Chief Legal Counsel Jerry Kasai told the commission that there were things in the design of the project “that don’t meet any standard, let alone any professional standard.”
The commission adopted 77 construction contracts worth more than $85 million for projects in 20 school districts. It also heard an update on the auditor of state’s FY11 auditor of state, which included no major findings but had four internal control comments, including concerns about a delay in the reconciliation in monthly expenditure reports, a request form approval, a missing signature on a change order and the verification of payments to school districts. Two of those concerns were attributed to a vacancy on the staff that has since been filled.
An amendment sponsored by Rep. J Kirk Schuring passed by both the House and the Senate was signed last week by Governor Kasich, this will streamline the Ohio historic tax credit process for some historic properties by allowing both a qualified lessee or fee simple owner structure to be eligible for Ohio historic tax credits. This change may reduce legal cost on some projects. Read the bill HERE (scroll down to section 149.311) Last week the Ohio Department of Development awarded $35.8 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to 18 owners planning to rehabilitate 44 historic buildings in 10 communities across the state. If you’d like to review the list click HERE
The July issue of the SAO newsletter is now available at http://das.ohio.gov/Divisions/GeneralServices/StateArchitectsOffice/SAOeNews.aspx.
Click here to download a PDF version of SAO eNews.
The Historic Tax Credit Coalition and Rutgers University yesterday released their annual study on the economic impa ct of the federal historic tax credit (HTC). Researchers found that between fiscal years (FYs) 1978 and 2011 the HTC has generated more than 2.2 million jobs and $83.7 billion in income. In FY 2011 alone, the HTC generated 64,000 jobs and $2.7 billion in income. The study was conducted by researchers at the Rutgers University Center for Urban Policy Research and commissioned by the Historic Tax Credit Coalition, a public policy advocacy organization.
Read more about the report from Historic Tax Credit Coalition Chairman John Leith-Tetrault in his monthly History and the Hill column in the July issue of the firstname.lastname@example.org&;url=www.novoco.com%2Fmarketing%2Fshopping_product_detail.m%3Fid%3D346″ target=_self>Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits. The report will also be a hot topic at the email@example.com&;url=www.novoco.com%2Fevents%2Fother%2Fkentucky%2Findex.php” target=_self>National Historic Tax Credit Conference, September 6-7, in Louisville, Ky.