It looks unlikely that any work will be done this summer at Brookfield Middle School to deal with the shifting shale under the school, which has lifted the hallway floor and cracked walls in the central part of the building, said Supt. Toby Gibson.
Unless the contractors can split the work over two summers, nothing will be done this year, he said May 31. Officials with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, the district’s partner in the building construction; the contractors; and the district’s attorney are set to meet the first week of June to see if something can be worked out, Gibson said.
“Who knows what they can do or are willing to do,” he said. “If it’s all or nothing, I don’t see how we can form a plan in two to three months.”
The project has been long in the planning stages, but the design was only finalized “a couple weeks ago,” and it includes using piles to shore up walls, he said. Local school officials had hoped to do the work over the summer, but the contractors are saying it will take eight to 10 months, Gibson said. That leaves Brookfield officials looking for alternate ways to educate the middle school students during construction, and Gibson said there is not enough time to get a plan in place for the fall.
One option he won’t entertain is having the students work from home, as they did during parts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re not remote learning,” he said. “The only time we’re gonna do that is if the health department tells me to do that.”
That leaves the district looking for space in other parts of the school campus to set up temporary classrooms, having modular classrooms built or seeking a separate building that can be rented and retrofit for school use, Gibson said.
The district needs time to research the options and figure out how to pay for whatever option is chosen, he said. OFCC, the district’s partner in the school building, would pay 64 percent of the cost, but would need to go through a lengthy process to budget the money.
Contractors were selected through an emergency, non-competitive bidding process, and Gibson said he has not seen the bids. The estimated repair cost has been $2.3 million.