Career center reevaluating needs before second levy proposal

CLEARCREEK TWP. — Construction firms are vying to land a contract for a renovations project at the Warren County Career Center, but an agreement won’t be made until voters pass a tax increase.

The Quandel Group and Megen Construction recently pitched their capabilities to WCCC board members. The board ranked the two companies, along with Messer Construction, and on Monday, June 28, board members voted unanimously that the best choice, in descending order, would be Quandel, Megen and Messer.

Superintendent Maggie Hess said the board will work with the first choice to formulate costs and identify the school’s needs. Hess said the career center’s 35-year-old building on Ohio 48 is in need of upgrades and structural improvements, including sprinklers, electric work and roof repairs.

“The building has been well cared for over the years, but over time there needs to be some upgrades to make it more usable,” she said. “As we add programs, there’s an increased need for classroom space and career tech lab space.”

Voters overwhelmingly rejected a 1-mill permanent-improvement levy in November 2009 that would have funded the project, previously estimated at $35 million. Prior to the defeat, the career center had been on the ballot only two times, passing an operating levy in 1990.

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Hess said they are reevaluating the building’s needs and hope to communicate better to voters, “so they have a better understanding of what the needs are.”

Voters in the six school districts where WCCC students reside will likely see a proposal on the ballot next year, and it could be as early as May 2011, according to a timeline presented to the board by The Quandel Group.

Until then, Quandel officials told the board they can help get the bond issue passed and, in their timeline chart, identified community events and school functions as opportunities to get the message out to voters. The project would be complete by 2013, according to Quandel’s chart.

Enrollment at the career center has increased in recent years, particularly in the full-time adult education programs. Enrollment in those programs ballooned this year to 800, double the adult students seeking career opportunities last year, Hess said.

Contact this reporter at (513) 696-4542 or rwilson@coxohio.com.

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