About $15 million worth of work, expected to last three to four years, remains to be done at the West Liberty Street campus of the career center and is set to include upgrades to lighting, sprinklers and the building’s HVAC system, said Superintendent Steven Chrisman.

Gazette Reporter: Jonathan Delozier, (330) 721-4050,  jdelozier@medinagazette.com

New engineering and sports medicine labs have already been built as part of the renovation effort, which when complete will have encompassed a decade and cost roughly $30 million. No new taxpayer money has been used for the projects. Cash from the district’s general fund has been complimented by state aid as well as about $500,000 in yearly revenue from Medina County’s 0.5 percent sales tax, Chrisman said. “We’ve been able to center the sales tax money around these projects and we’re very thankful for that,” he said. “We’ve been good stewards of that money. I’d say there’s about 30-40 percent of the building left to work on. Through a partnership with OFCC, we’re expecting they’re going to pay for 44 percent of our remaining costs. That gets us where we need to be. Before, it was an ambitious goal; now it’s a reachable goal.” “What we mostly have left to do is infrastructure,” Chrisman added. “We’ve done the boilers, the parking lots, the roofing and the siding. We’re still working on the HVAC equipment and the sprinkler systems. We’ve gotten a bid for about $5 million to basically finish the sprinkling system, swap out all of the lighting because the fluorescent tube lighting is not good stuff. We’ll switch over to LED and the return on that investment is very good.”

Chrisman also touted the campus’ new $650,000 driving pad that serves as the centerpiece for the county’s Take Control Teen Driving Program, in which police officers offer help to new drivers in areas such as emergency braking; recovery from skids and off-road swerves; and avoiding collisions. Classes are free of charge for any licensed teen driver and are held the third Saturday of each month at the career center. The superintendent said the new site also has served multiple purposes. “We were having problems here with overflow parking for our kids and a new lot with 125 spots was going to cost $1 million. I couldn’t pull the trigger on that. Montville Township police Chief (Terry) Grice was telling me about Take Control when we were coaching football and he brought up the idea of doing the driving pad here. That brought the cost down to $750,000. That was still too much. But I have to say God intervened.” A fundraising effort brought the project within striking distance. “We talked to all of the families involved who’ve all lost a child. Within three weeks,the donations started pouring in; The contractor ignored the original bid and did it for $650,000. The school’s share ended up being $300,000. We’re making a difference in children’s lives every single day because of that.”

Read the complete Northern Medina County Chamber of Commerce: State of School report here.