Technical Center connector hallway raises concerns

As work begins at the Wood County Technical Center in south Parkersburg, officials say an enclosed walkway linking the center with Parkersburg South High School was left out of technical documents submitted to the state in 2017, despite being part of the 2016 facilities bond. Officials say it cannot be added to the current renovation project as it is expected to cost about $1 million and will need to be bid as a separate project. (Photo by Michael Erb)

PARKERSBURG — Officials say a hallway connecting Parkersburg South High School to the Wood County Technical Center was included in the facilities bond call but left out of a later technical document, and must now be completed as a separate project.

Renovation and expansion of the tech center is part of the $41 million facilities bond approved in 2016 by Wood County voters. The bond called for expansion of classrooms for various programs and creation of an “enclosed walkway” to link the center with Parkersburg South High School. The two schools share a campus.

Wood County Board of Education President Rick Olcott says the connector was not part of a needs document sent to the state School Building Authority in 2017. Olcott and two other new board members were elected in 2018, the same year Superintendent Will Hosaflook was hired to replace then-Superintendent John Flint.

Officials have looked at the cost of creating a covered walkway, but Olcott said it was not included in the initial designs and is not the enclosed walkway promised in the bond call.

“We have to do what is in that bond call,” Olcott said. “That is what the voters approved and that is what we will do.”

Officials with architectural and engineering firm ZMM estimate the connector could cost $1 million or more by itself, and the SBA will not allow the current renovation and expansion plan for the technical center to be modified by such an amount.

“It can’t be a change order because the change order is too big,” said Hosaflook. “The walkway will have to be a separate bid package.”

That bid package will have to wait until work is further along and officials can see how much money is left of the $41 million bond call. The board recently approved reducing the scope of work at the technical center as well as some of the other buildings which are part of the bond.

Olcott said the walkway wasn’t the only change between the bond call and the needs document. Expansion of a cosmetology classroom also was not included. The board voted against ending the center’s broadcasting program to potentially provide space for cosmetology, but said they believed the existing renovation and expansion plan could accommodate the program.

“The cosmetology lab is not that big of a deal. That’s a classroom. And the SBA understands that programs come and go,” Hosaflook said.

“I think it’s very doable. I’m glad we caught it now,” Olcott said. “We’ll make it right. It’s fixable and it’s the right time.”

The school board meets Thursday and is expected to discuss and receive updates on the district’s construction projects.

Michael Erb can be reached at merb@newsandsentinel.com.