I interviewed Monroe Schools Superintendent Lolli and Treasurer Thorpe about the new architect and current estimates and payment plans for the new elementary school.
Beagle: Has the School District Hired an architect? If so who and why you chose them?
Lolli: The firm that was hired was Fanning and Howey. They were one of two finalists. They are a large firm out of Celina. They met the criterion that we looked for; the community surveys from the public meetings indicated many in attendance preferred them; and the committee chose them over the other finalist.
Photos: Fanning on Left, Howey on Right.
Thorpe: The agreement that was approved with Fanning & Howey last month was for consulting services as part of the OSFC pre-bond work.
Beagle: Why not Steed Hammond Paul?
Lolli: SHP did not apply for the project.
Beagle: What is your vision for Monroe Elementary Schools?
Lolli: I prefer to see the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission recommendation before I talk about a vision for the facilities.
Beagle: What is the upfront cost to work with F&H?
Lolli: No cost is associated with pre bond work by the architects. Once the project begins with the passage of a levy, then a contract with money attached will be drawn up by the schoolís attorney.
Thorpe: The current agreement states that there is no compensation due to
Fanning for the basic pre-bond and OSFC services outlined in the
agreement. The agreement also specifies that upon the successful
passage of a bond issue, the school will enter into an agreement with
Fanning for the design and construction of any buildings associated
with that bond. Those fees would be negotiated at that time depending
on the requirements of the OSFC Master Plan.
Beagle: How far along are we in the process? Are there any drawings available?
Lolli: We are still waiting on the OSFC report. No further work will be done until that report is available to the board and shared with the public. No determination of anything about facilities has been made yet. The architects were hired at this point to support Monroe in the OSFC master planning process. They will represent Monroeís interest in types of projects that could happen.
Beagle: Can you share any financial estimates on the Elementary School Project?
Thorpe: At this time, I donít have any idea how much the architect fees will be for construction issue Ė nor do we know what that construction will consist of. The OSFC Master Plan could recommend a new facility only, a smaller new facility and a remodel of an existing facility, or a different option. All of these options will need different amounts of architect input and design.
Because we donít have the OSFC Master Plan yet, we also donít have a current projected budget will be for that issue. If the plan recommends utilizing the existing Monroe Primary, a remodel and/or extension of that facility could be less expensive than building a new building.
Once we receive the Master Plan from the OSFC, we will be in a much better position to make these estimates. There are just too many variables right now to make an educated guess. Dr. Lolli is expecting to receive the plan sometime this spring. Once it is received, the board will need to review it along with the architect consultants and decide if they want to follow the recommendations within the plan. If they accept the plan and proceed with it, then the OSFC will provide 24% of the construction cost to complete the project. At that point, we will have a good idea of the scope and cost of the project.
Beagle: How will the new school be financed?
Thorpe: Any new construction would have to be financed by a bond issue approved by the voters. But again, until we have details on what the construction will entail, I donít know how much the project will cost nor what the additional operating costs will be.
A little School Building Philophosy From Fanning and Howey
The Building as a Learning Tool
Designing a school so that the building itself can be effectively used as a learning tool is an intriguing option that has long been. As educators search for more creative ways to reach a broad range of students, utilizing a variety of instructional approaches, the hands-on opportunities presented within a building can open up many avenues of exploration and study.
While schools have begun to use the outdoors as a learning tool - with courtyards, ponds, wetland areas, nature trails, gardens, and outdoor learning labs - the interior of a building also offers a number of opportunities. Exposed structure can allow students to examine structural systems, connections, and detailing. Exposed mechanical systems can provide avenues for exploring hydraulics, air filtration, and air quality. Students may have an opportunity to review temperature gauges and system control panels, or solar or wind power monitoring stations that demonstrate how much energy is being generated and used.
Students may also study the amount of rainwater being collected for irrigation, or the levels of oxygen or humidity in the air. An auditorium may provide an opportunity for the study of acoustic properties or reverberation times. The possibilities are limitless but may require some careful planning to enable students to have access to data and system control centers.
Should the trend in utilizing the building as a learning tool begin to develop more fully, facility staff may soon play a vital role in sharing information, facilitating access, and maintaining system security. The result will be a new generation of students with a deeper appreciation of the complexity of buildings, building systems, and the environment.