The Delaware Area Career Center board has voted unanimously to approve a $45 million consolidation project.
The project calls for an addition and renovation to the South Campus and the closing of the North Campus, and merging the two campuses’ programs at the South Campus.
The original estimate for the project was about $37 million, but increased about $8 million after officials from Elford Construction told the board in December that extra square footage is needed to account for growth on the campus.
Julie Wagner-Feasel, president of the DACC board, said at Thursday night’s meeting at the South Campus that allowing room for growth in the initial plan “just didn’t hit us.”
“When we started to think about it – well, gosh, we want to do a pharmacy tech program,” she said. “And what if there are careers out there that we don’t even know about yet – like app development. There was no app development five years ago.”
DACC Superintendent Mary Beth Freeman said that when she arrived eight years ago, officials did a strategic plan.
“One of the things that came out of that is that we are going to be fiscally prudent with taxpayer dollars,” she said. Officials have said they had saved $37 million for the consolidation project.
She said that DACC Treasurer Christopher Bell then organized a performance audit with state auditors as part of the strategic plan. “It’s taken a long time to build this balance up,” Bell said. “That performance audit gave us the focus on what areas could we cut back on and save money on and that’s why we’re in this position now.”
“We did not put money into facilities unless we had to,” Freeman said. “The things that were not related to safety, instruction and necessity, we put all of that on hold.”
The $37 million comes from a permanent improvement tax issue.
“If we’re building and renovating, then we’re not going to use it for upkeep,” Wagner-Feasel said.
The board will borrow the additional $8 million for the consolidation in “certificates of participation.”
“As taxes are collected … we (will) use that money to pay off the certificates of participation,” Wagner-Feasel said.
“We would also hope that we could sell the (north) building at some point,” Freeman said.
Freeman said that renovations to both buildings would have cost about $50 million and that consolidation would ultimately save the taxpayers money.
A preliminary timeline says that the groundbreaking is scheduled for this fall and construction will begin in the spring 2017. The building is expected to be completed in late fall 2018 with classes ready by the second semester of the 2018-19 school year.
“There have been districts throughout central Ohio that have opened new or renovated buildings at Christmas break,” Wagner-Feasel said. “So I don’t want people to think that this is something new.”
Dates will be finalized once the addition and renovation plans are designed. The schematic design will be approved April 21.
“It’s different than building a house because there may be things from a construction standpoint that (when) they look at the schematic that would be more cost-efficient if we do it (differently),” Freeman said.
At the meeting, the board approved staffing changes, its December 2015 financial report, and the purchase of new text books for a geometry class.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette. Email: [email protected]