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.