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Dayton school board member questions cost of headquarters move

Dayton Public Schools’ plan to move its downtown headquarters across Ludlow Street to a smaller, district-owned building was questioned Tuesday night by a school board member leery of costs.

Two contracts are already listed on the board’s June 19 agenda for painting and asphalt/concrete work at the “Ludlow II” building, and Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said DPS had set an Aug. 1 target date for staff to move to the buildings at 124-136 S. Ludlow St.

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But school board member Sheila Taylor asked district leadership to look at expenses tied to the move and weigh whether another option might be better.

“I really feel that the board needs to take a look at what expenses are involved in that, and whether or not we might be better off using one of our other buildings instead,” Taylor said. “I’m hearing that the expenses are going to be (large).”

The exterior painting and refinishing contract for the Ludlow II complex — which looks like three varying-height attached buildings from the street — is $86,500. Taylor said DPS operations staff told her air conditioning fixes would be more than $90,000, and a small amount of a districtwide asphalt/concrete contract calls for work at the Ludlow II site as well.

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Lolli said major fixes would be needed to the heating-ventilation-air conditioning systems at either the Ludlow II complex or the underused 115 S. Ludlow St. building that has served as DPS headquarters for more than a decade.

“But this (current) building is so much larger, so the cost would be so much more expensive,” Lolli said. “Over there, we’re not doing much more than cosmetic work other than fixing the HVAC.”

Associate Superintendent Shelia Burton said months ago that the current six-story headquarters — bought from Reynolds & Reynolds in 2003 for $15.5 million — now houses only 150 central office employees and has $1.1 million in deferred maintenance.

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Lolli said that cosmetic work at the Ludlow II complex would include painting and carpet work, as well as realigning modular/cubicle furniture that is already there to design proper work spaces.

Taylor suggested DPS could use the newly vacant Gorman/Jackson Center site near U.S. 35 and Abbey Avenue in West Dayton as a headquarters. There are questions about the lack of a central location and easy RTA bus access.

“I know I kind of spoke against (Jackson Center) because I felt it needed to be downtown, but maybe that might end up being the best financial choice for us,” Taylor said.

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Burton and school board President William Harris said the district will look at cost comparisons based on Taylor’s request. Lolli said she doesn’t know if that process will delay the Aug. 1 target date.

Lolli said the closure of Valerie Elementary, which was approved at the same time as the headquarters switch, has moved forward. Meadowdale Elementary will absorb many of those students this fall.

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