New Home of Education Service Center Opens Doors

CANFIELD, Ohio – The newest home of the Mahoning County Education Service Center officially opened Thursday afternoon as Beth Donofrio, president of its board, used an oversized pair of scissors to cut the first ribbon to the main entrance.

Then 21 students representing the member school districts the Education Service Center serves cut a second ribbon. All wore their school colors.

The 35,315-square-foot building, about 200 feet south of the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, 7320 N. Palmyra Road, boasts the most up-to-date and technologically advanced equipment and architecture, the speakers pointed out in brief remarks.

Kathi McNabb Welsh, president of the ESC Governing Board (formerly the Mahoning County Board of Education) called the $8.5-million building the site “where 21st-century education will happen” after noting the project was completed “on time and on budget.”

Treasurer Blaise Karlovic told how the tax-exempt municipal bonds that are financing the building would save taxpayers $2.2 million in interest over the 28 years until they’re paid off. Should the ESC board decide to retire the bonds early, the district will incur no penalty, Karlovic said.

The ESC is paying a fixed rate of 3.76%, he said afterward, because Standard & Poor’s accorded it an AA+ rating, a status only 10% of the more than 600 school districts across Ohio have.

Bob McAuliffe Jr., president of the general contractor, Hammond Construction Co., praised the skills and work ethics of the several subcontractors, MS Consultants Inc. and Olsavsky Jaminet Architects Inc. for using the design-build contract delivery method.

Design-build “is fairly new to Ohio,” an ESC spokeswoman said, “allowed only since [the state Legislature] passed legislation allowing it in July 2011.”

Design-build eliminates cost overruns, keeps a project on budget and ensures top quality,” Iarussi noted.

The Mahoning County Career and Technical Center owns the land and building where the ESC sits and the ESC leases the properties.

Iarussi is superintendent of both, a result of the former MCCTC superintendent, Roan Craig, retiring last spring and the state Legislature encouraging shared services among districts to reduce expense and increase efficiency. He has been ESC superintendent since Rich Denaman retired.

In its 35,000-plus square feet, the building offers nine conference rooms, 24 private offices and nine shared offices, a board room, a technology room and three computer labs.

While the ESC district employs more than 700, only 250 work in its new building, Iarussi said.

The ESC provides curriculum support to its 22 member districts in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Portage and Geauga counties as well as staff who work with students with special needs in their buildings. It helps districts by providing interim staff and services as well as identifying some 250 substitute teachers.

The center worked with the member districts to create a STEM school at the career and technical center.

ESC staff also advises school districts who request it advice on conducting campaigns to pass school levies.

Yesterday morning, for example, teachers met in the new building in a professional development session to learn how to strengthen their curricula, Iarussi said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.