MASSILLON – Walking through the Massillon City Schools operations facility, you would think you were in a new building. But that’s not the case.
The district embarked on a renovation project, transforming the former Washington High at Oak Avenue SE and Third Street SE into a revitalized space addressing several needs.
The district’s leadership explored a number of options from building a new facility on the Massillon Intermediate and Junior High School property to a hybrid of new and old at the former high school site.
What they settled on was a renewal of the former school to house the district’s operations team, including building and grounds, transportation, food service and IT.
John Petro, district building and grounds supervisor, worked hand-in-hand with the administration, architects and contractors to build an efficient site that would provide a shared multiuse space.
“Operations is expensive (to the district),” Petro said. “We try to reduce costs all the time so that dollars saved can go back into providing an education to our students.”
Making old Washington High new again
Rehabilitation of the old high school began with the demolition of the classrooms. The building footprint was reduced from 92,000 to 46,000 square feet.
The goal, Petro said, was to use items from the former educational institution to reduce costs and keep them out of the landfill.
The green cinder block walls remain in many of the spaces, including the stairwells, but flooring and ceilings were replaced.
The 7-foot solid oak classroom doors and the hardware were repurposed. Today the doors would go for more than $2,800 each, Petro said.
Petro also wanted to make the facility easy to maintain.
All of the lighting fixtures were replaced with the same LED fixture, requiring only one kind of light bulb for the building. At the middle school, there are 36 different kinds of bulbs, he said.
Each light fixture has an occupancy sensor that automatically turns on and off. The building and roof were insulated to increase the energy efficiency and a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system was installed. The plumbing and electrical also were replaced.
While not part of the project, Petro and his team revamped the locker rooms used by swimmers. New plumbing and lighting were installed and a new coat of paint brightened up the existing lockers.
“No one used the showers before,” he said. “I put new plumbing in and added shower curtains. We want people to use them.”
Petro said the finishes were kept simple but the space is bright and filled with light.
Operations facility:Work continues at former Washington High School site
Massillon City Schools’ bus management
The aim of the facility is to meet needs for the district’s bus fleet.
The fenced lot for the district’s 35 buses and other transportation vehicles is monitored by security cameras.
For the first time in 30 years, the district mechanic and buses will be housed in the same space, said Dan McGrath, transportation director. Previously the transportation department and the buses were housed at the armory on the high school property.
A fueling station will hold 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel. A diesel exhaust fluid station also will be installed. The material is an emissions control liquid required for some of the diesel engines.
Buying diesel fuel in bulk will yield about a $1-per-gallon savings, McGrath said. A bus will hold about 100 gallons.
“So we’ll save $100 per bus times 35 buses per week,” he said. “Our hope is that every two years we save enough in fuel costs to be able to purchase a new bus.”
The fueling station eliminates the wait time to buy fuel a local gas station.
A new mechanic’s bay features a computerized lift that allows the mechanic to work under the buses. To decrease costs, bulk oil and grease are in large totes and are distributed to different areas of the garage by overhead pumps.
The facility also includes a bus wash station. Undercarriage cleaning will help prolong the age of the buses by removing harmful debris, including road salt.
“We used to use a hose hooked up to the back of the armory and with a brush,” McGrath said. “By the time you pulled the bus up (to the parking lot), it was dirty.”
Bus driver Ken Koontz likes the new paved lot. The lot at the armory was slag and on a hill. It did not freeze and thaw properly, leaving dangerous conditions for drivers, Petro added.
A 1,300-square-foot training room, which also doubles as a break room for bus drivers, is located off the parking lot. A communications room with lockers was installed for the drivers and McGrath to keep in touch.
“Now we will be able to meet at one time,” McGrath said. Before he had to secure a classroom to meet with his 45-person staff.
Long-time bus driver Dana Harper is excited about the new facility.
“It’s exciting to come to work here,” she said. “It’s clean. We can pull in and come in and relax.”
The reconfigured space includes an operations office area with seven offices and related support areas, a conference room that seats 12 to 14 and a secure server room that has its own fire suppression and HVAC system.
A backup generator to the server room ensures the district will not lose internet, phone service or bus radios in the case of a power outage.
A 2,300-square-foot assembly hall, once used as the pool lobby, is capable of seating 150 at tables and chairs and 300 in lecture-style seating.
Petro hopes to see that space used for team banquets or prom.
An elevator was installed making the building accessible.
In the pool area, restrooms were upgraded, LED lighting was installed and air handler that removes humidity from the air in the pool was installed. A storage area also was created for the pool area.
“We scrubbed the tile, closed up the (spectator) windows and our water quality is spot on,” Petro said. “We just wanted to make it more comfortable for visitors and the swimmers. The air and water temperature are the same. I am really proud of the pool.”
What’s the cost?
John Patrick Picard, the architect for the project, told board members Monday the building will serve the district for 30 to 50 years or longer if properly maintained.
When the project was bid, the cost of the renovation was set at $4,805,643 making the cost per square foot $104.47.
The final cost was $4,692,840.90, bringing the finished price of a square foot to $102.01.
A $226,500 contingency was built into the cost. The unused portion of the contingency came in at $112,802.
He noted by renovating the property they did not bury a 46,000-square-foot building in a landfill.
Reach Amy at 330-775-1135 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @aknappINDE