Older buildings are successfully renovated all the time.  Schools are no exception.  I've put this page together to show some examples of renovated schools.  Where possible, I have pictures included.  I also thought it pertinent to talk about modular classrooms (aka "trailers") that would be used to house students during construction.

First, let's get straight what renovation really is.  Many people seem to confuse renovation and remodeling.  They are very different.  While remodeling involves cosmetic changes, renovation generally strips a building to its shell and starts over.  Every mechanical system (electric, plumbing, HVAC, etc) is replaced.  When complete, the building is mechanically new.  In fact, by OSFC requirement, a renovated school must meet the same standards as a new school, including its expected lifespan. 

Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Original Construction: 1864-1933

Fort Hayes was built as an arsenal for the United States Army during the Civil War.  The Army discontinued use of the site in 1944 and it was used by the Ohio National Guard thereafter.  The school is situated on 50 acres no longer used for military purposes.  There are actually three schools here: a career center, a science school, and an arts and academic high school.  Fort Hayes has been listed as one of America's Best High Schools by US News & World Report. Fort Hayes continues to show that older buildings still make viable schools - even those older buildings that weren't intended for educational use!

 

Scott High School

Location: Toledo, Ohio
Original Construction:  1913

Jessup Wakeman Scott High School reopened to students in January 2012 after the completion of a $42 million renovation project.  The 5-story, 250,000 square foot building was completely renovated in 20 months. 

 

Kilgour School

Location: Cincinnati
Original Construction: 1922

The original building was completely renovated and a 24,000 SF addition containing a gymnasium and two story classroom wing was added.

 

Kirtland Local Schools

Location: Kirtland, Ohio

Kirtland Local Schools implemented a districtwide facilities plan that saw 84,000 SF of renovated space and 61,000 SF of new construction.  This $16.6 million project was completed ahead of schedule and $500,000 under budget.  Final cost of the project was $198 per square foot.

 

James Ford Rhodes High School

Location: Cleveland
Original Construction: 1932

This 3-story high school in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland houses over 1,000 students in 223,000 square feet of space.  The building was completely renovated with construction planned to allow 1/3 of the student population to remain in the building during the renovation work.  Total project cost was $24 million, which equates to $107 per square foot.

 

Modular Classrooms

Modular classrooms, also known as trailers, have changed a lot over the years.  Wellington is not entirely new to the idea of modulars.  One was used at Westwood for several years and functioned well as the art room.  Modulars today offer a new level of flexibility.  In fact, some districts around the nation are growing so quickly that they can't build schools fast enough - they literally build schools out of modular units.  Modulars today range from single classroom units to 10-classroom units.  These larger, multiroom units offer advantages of single utility connections and enclosed hallways that don't require students to be exposed to the weather between classes. 

The district has recently stated that "...$1.2 million would be needed to lease modular classrooms for 36 months during the demolition of part of the building, renovation and additions."  Doubtful.  Over three years, that would be $400,000 per year.  Let's estimate 25 classrooms, which is about how many the new school will have.  $400,000 divided by 25 is $16,000 per room. 

Now let's look at examples from some other districts.  These are from Virginia, but gave rock solid numbers: Henrico paid $409,980 to leave 92 classroom trailers for one school year, Hanover paid $31,035 to lease seven, and Richmond paid $113,604 to lease 22.  The first two average roughly $4,450 per room, while Richmond figures out to be $5,163 per room. 

So why would Wellington's cost be nearly quadruple?  Even accounting for different states and regulations, that is a massive difference that I find hard to believe.

Let's take a look at some images from modular units in service around the country.

 


Disclaimer:This site is not affiliated with the Village of Wellington, Wellington Exempted Village School District, or Citizens for Wellington Schools.  This site is privately owned and maintained and all expenses are paid for out of my own pocket.  This portion of the website was created to bring all pertinent information to one place, because when I did my own research on the subject I found that the information being published is sometimes incomplete or incorrect.  I have been careful to verify as much of my information as possible.  The sources of my data can be found within the links on the Resources page.