At a special meeting on Dec. 17, the Orange Board of Education voted 4-1 to approve a proposal from ThenDesign Architecture to offer design services for the women’s varsity locker room renovation at a cost of $175,000. ThenDesign Architecture will make drawings for the project to update parts of the locker room at Orange High School to allow for a more efficient use of space. The Albert M. Higley Company estimated the locker room renovation to cost $2.5 million.

Board member Melanie Weltman voted against the proposal from ThenDesign Architecture, although she emphasized that she supports the project. Ms. Weltman said that she voted no because she did not like the look of the permanent improvement fund with this project’s cost. The locker room renovation would be paid for with the permanent improvement dollars, which Treasurer Todd Puster said is usually kept at a balance of $5 million. This project would pull the fund down to $3 million, he said.

“Current projections don’t show us continuing to refund the [permanent improvement fund] and maintaining that reserve and building up that fund back to a level where we could easily take care of a project such as this,” she said on Dec. 19. “That’s not how the board of education determined that money to be spent.”

She said that the renovations are much needed, but the board needs to keep its eye on the permanent improvement fund. Roughly half of the funds were typically used for current projects, Ms. Weltman said, and the other half was set aside for emergency funds.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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