Powers Elementary groundbreaking expected in April

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com

Demand for contractors is rising this spring as nine Northeast Ohio districts look to build schools.

That means prices could skew higher than anticipated for Amherst’s new Powers Elementary on South Lake Street, according to Mark Salopek of the architectural firm GPD Group.

“This is not the time to panic. This is the time for us to roll up our sleeves and do some work, see what numbers we get,” he told the Amherst board of education on Monday.

About $1 billion worth of school construction issues passed in the November 2016 election across the region. As a result, there are going to be a lot of crews engaged, so contractors won’t be offering bargain bids.

Firm estimates on pricing are expected next week.

With those in hand, the Powers project will go out to bid in March with an award expected in April. GPD Group wants to get Amherst’s bids locked down before Sandusky, Elyria, Euclid, and other school systems that are also hunting for construction crews.

Ground will likely be broken in April, putting the PK-3 school on track for an August 2019 opening.

Salopek promised to do everything possible to minimize issues in the construction zone where Harris Elementary used to stand.

Architect Aaron Rodebaugh outlined for the board how the design for the new school has solidified.

He highlighted how grades have been clustered in wings centered around larger common areas for collaborative learning and team teaching.

Instead of hallways lined by classrooms, the plans show large open spaces at the center of educational wings. Those common areas can be used for presentations or by multiple teachers at a time.

“That different approach to using square footage will ultimately benefit our students,” said district superintendent Steven Sayers.

The design has been crafted with flexibility in mind. For example, there are two music rooms, even though likely one will not be needed, but it can easily be converted for other uses as they arise. Classrooms are also built with partitions so they can be transformed into larger spaces as needed.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk