Woodridge Local School District has new transportation warehouse, office

8,650 square foot building paid for with remaining bond issue funds

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
Woodridge Local School District Superintendent Walter Davis and Vince Spitali, the district's Director of Facilities and Grounds, give a tour of the district's new transportation building, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

CUYAHOGA FALLS — "It's perfect."

That's how Vince Spitali, Woodridge Schools' director of facilities and grounds, describes the district's new warehouse and transportation facility located behind the administration building off Quick Road. The 8,650 square foot building was constructed next door to the transportation yard where the district's 27 buses were, and still are, being parked.

To pay fo the new structure, $775,445 worth of the remaining proceeds from the 2015 bond issue were used. In addition to the transportation facility, the bond issue funded construction of a new elementary school, additions to the high school, a new roof at the high school, and replacement of the tennis courts. 

Regency Construction Services began work on the new building in June 2020 and finished the project in October. Transportation department employees started working in the building on Dec. 1.

"It's not flashy," said Spitali. "It's exactly what you need. It's bare bones …I'm really excited to have it."

The Woodridge Local School District's new warehouse and transportation facility was recently name in honor of Superintendent Walter Davis.

Spitali noted he felt district Superintendent Walter Davis deserved credit for spearheading the project, so much so that the facility is now known as the Walter Davis Warehouse and Transportation Facility.

Spitali teamed up with the board of education to organize a surprise ceremony at the board meeting in December to announce that the new building would be named in Davis' honor.

Davis said he was "honored" to have the new facility bear his name. He observed the upgraded facility was much-needed for the transportation department and its employees.

"I always tell [the bus drivers] they're the first people to see the kids in the morning and the last ones to see them at the end of the day," stated Davis. "It's critical that they have what they need to do their job."

Transportation employees can use the warehouse to clean the interior and exterior of vehicles, work on equipment, and retrieve cleaning supplies, among other things. The building also has office space and a meeting room.

Woodridge Local School District Superintendent Walter Davis, right, and Vince Spitali, the district's Director of Facilities and Grounds, speak about what it was like for the transportation department to operate out of a trailer for the last several years, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

For the past dozen or so years, the transportation workers' home base was an unheated trailer next to the transportation yard, with a porta potty on site rather than indoor restrooms. Before that, Davis, said transportation employees worked in the administrative office and had a kitchen area, but "no room" otherwise. The district also leased warehouse space for the transportation department at various sites on State Road and used an old garage in Peninsula near the former intermediate school to store items.

"By consolidating everything here, we don't have to lease that space anymore," said Davis. "We have everything [Spitali] needs right here."

In the heated warehouse area, there is space for trucks with snowplows, as well as other equipment such as lawn mowers. Cleaning materials and supplies are on the upper level of the warehouse. Custodians and other cleaning staff can come over to pick up supplies, or items can be delivered to one of the buildings by employees via golf cart

"We're not going to need to store things off-site and that's going to save the district money in the long run," said Davis.

A wood shop and a metal shop can also be found inside the warehouse. In the past, if Spitali or one of his employees had a project, they'd go to the high school's wood shop, do the work, then quickly clean the area so it was available to the students.

"Now, it's nice," noted Spitali. "You can go in [to the warehouse], you can work on stuff, you don't have to hurry up and get it all put away before six o'clock."

If a vehicle breaks down, it can be pulled into the heated facility so an employee can work on it without having to endure cold winter temperatures.

Woodridge Local School District Superintendent Walter Davis and Vince Spitali, the district's Director of Facilities and Grounds, give a tour of the vehicle cleaning bay, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

The warehouse includes a heated bay where buses and other district vehicles can be washed and fumigated. Spitali noted vehicles are pulled into this area so that they can be sanitized during the COVID -19 pandemic.

"You spray it down and let it sit for a while and put the exhaust fan on, [then] come back, hit it again to make sure we got everything," said Spitali. "…Buses are [cleaned] after every run."

The bay to clean vehicles, Davis said, is "probably the room I'm most excited about …We never had a way to clean our buses…This was an important part of our investment."

Terry Heard, Supervisor of Transportation for the Woodridge School District, works in the new transportation office, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

Terry Heard, the district's transportation supervisor, and Meg Swayer, the nutrition services and transportation secretary, have offices next to the warehouse. The office area offers an indoor meeting room and restrooms for the transportation employees. Previously, Davis said, meetings with bus drivers occurred either near the trailer or in one of the building's libraries.

"It's just so much more efficient than what we had before," said Davis.

There is also a fueling station next to the building with both diesel and unleaded gas pumps. Davis said the district is leasing the fuel tanks, but will eventually own them, and the company that the district is leasing the tanks from will maintain the equipment.

Maintenance area carried too much added cost, leader says

Davis noted he would've liked to have installed a maintenance bay at the Quick Road facility, but said, "the costs far outweighed the convenience of having it here."

As a result, the district is still leasing a garage on State Road to perform maintenance work on buses. 

The district had just under $800,000 in money left over from the bond issue that was approved by voters in 2015. The cost of the warehouse and transportation facility project came in at $775,445.

He emphasized district officials were focused on using the bond issue money exclusively and not dipping into the general fund for the project. The size of the building was also controlled to keep expenses down.

"By keeping it this size, we were able to keep the costs low and keep it affordable within that dollar amount that was remaining in the bond issue," said Davis.

Trailer site will be used to store records

The old trailer site will be used to store school records.

Davis said the floor in the trailer has been fortified and rows of file cabinets will soon be set up. There is no specific deadline on finishing the project, with Spitali noting it is one of many tasks his staff is working on.

Woodridge Local School District Superintendent Walter Davis, second from right, was caught off-guard at the board of education meeting in December when it was announced the warehouse and transportation facility would be named in his honor. Holding the sign with Davis is his wife, Aimee, and sons, Nick and Jacob.

Surprise ceremony

Davis said he knew something out-of-the ordinary was happening when his wife, Aimee, and sons, Nick and Jacob, unexpectedly walked into the board of education meeting in December. Nick and Jacob carried in a sign displaying their father's name on the facility.

"I'm going to retire in a couple of years and that's going to be there," said Davis. "You leave your name on something, that's kind of cool…It's kind of a neat tribute to all the work we did on this campus."

Davis praised the hard work of Spitali and noted the facility could just as easily been named after him. Spitali deflected the compliment and said Davis deserved the credit.

"I've always just tried to hire the right people and put them in the right place and make the conditions such that they can excel," said Davis. This is a great example of that."

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.