New Cost For Ohio County School Upgrades: $76 Million

WHEELING — A plan to place full kitchens in each Ohio County School appears to be on the chopping block, a move that is part of $10 million in estimated cost savings to taxpayers who soon could be asked to fund district-wide school building improvements now valued at $76 million.

Ohio County Board of Education members met Monday to discuss the list of proposed projects at each school, which was whittled down to reduce the cost by $10 million — from $86 million to $76 million. Board members have said a bond issue could cover roughly half of the bill, and administrators said they would be meeting with the district’s bond counsel today to discuss the lowered cost.

Eliminated was a plan to put full kitchens in each school building. Presently, all food prepared for students in Ohio County Schools comes from the kitchen at Wheeling Park High School.

Superintendent Kim Miller said there are no issues with preparing enough food at Park’s kitchen, but there is an issue in getting it to the schools and serving it to the students while it is still hot.

“We are now looking at a better system where the food would go to the schools cold, and we would be able to heat the food at the school as opposed to creating all these new kitchens,” she said, noting expanded kitchens at each school would have required additional staff.

Equipment also would have to increase, she said.

Board member Christine Carder said the biggest expense under the plan proposed Monday would be the cost of commercial ovens if the school district goes on to build food heating spaces in the schools. These spaces would not have refrigerators or freezers.

Expansion of cafeterias is still being looked at for Steenrod and Woodsdale elementary schools, as is the combination of separate kitchens for the middle school and elementary school sections at the Warwood School.

Representatives from McKinley and Associates told board members during the meeting they have talked with electric consultants, and they now believe not all lighting in the schools will have to be replaced to achieve energy cost savings for the district. Some existing lighting could be retrofitted to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

There was also one project that will be expanded from the original plans, according to Miller. A plan to renovate the wrestling room at Wheeling Park into a space for the music department will include additional sound and acoustic considerations.

The board will next meet for a work session at 11 a.m. Friday at the board office, 2203 National Road, Elm Grove, to discuss the financial numbers behind a prospective school bond. The bond would go before voters in the May 8 primary election, school officials have said