Thursday, April 28, 2022

School district negotiates technology building purchase

A $2 to $3 million savings has prompted members of the Plymouth Canton Community Schools Board of Education to re-consider budgeted construction of a technology building.

The construction of a $6.9 million building to house the information technology and maintenance departments was one of the projects included in the 2020 bond plan. The current economy and construction supply chain issues have prompted the board members to consider the purchase of a 37,000-square-foot building in Plymouth Township at a price of $3.6 million to house the two departments. The purchase could generate hefty savings, school officials said.

Original plans were to construct a two-story building on land at the Plymouth Canton Educational Park, near the high schools. The building under consideration for purchase is located in an industrial park east of Beck Road on Pilot Drive. 

District Chief Finance and Operations Officer Deborah J. Piesz explained the plan to members of the school board at a meeting earlier this month.

“Due in part to supply chain issues, our current bond projects are facing up to 20 percent cost overages. Purchasing this building would cost $96 per square foot compared to the $250 (square foot) cost of building,” she said.

She added that the expense of building far exceeds current prices for existing structures although the market on real estate remains “tight”. She said the price for the building under consideration is reasonable, especially since the seller is including the furnishings and fixtures in the price.

Funding for the purchase, if approved by the board members, would be from the district general fund as there is no provision in the bond allowing for a purchase of this type. 

Piesz said the general fund has adequate funding to pay for the building.

The proposed purchase could save the district an estimated $2 to $3 million, noted board Treasurer Patrick Kehoe, and would allow the district to use the funding for other projects.

District officials have agreed to a non-binding letter of intent with the seller of the building which is covered by attorney-client privilege, Piesz said. She said the building, constructed in 2002,  will require about $180,000 in maintenance. She added that the building “overall” has been well maintained.

If approved, the district could take possession of the Pilot Drive building by July 1.