School Construction Design Manual Stresses Conformity

CLEVELAND (AP) - The state has produced a 2,000-page design manual for its $23 billion school construction project that covers every architectural detail, right down to the toilet paper dispensers.

They should have a satin finish, be theft-resistant and made of stainless steel, according to the manual.

"I think it's kind of human nature," Rick Savors, spokesman for the Ohio School Facilities Commission, told The Plain Dealer. "The more an entity pays for a project, the more they want to see that project reflect a particular standard or quality level."

The commission is charged with monitoring the spending of billions in state and local money for school construction. The program, which extends through the decade, was created after the Ohio Supreme Court's directive to overhaul the state's school-funding system.

The commission put the design manual together about three years ago, using the expertise of architects, educational consultants and construction managers.

The manual stresses conformity, saying clocks must be "12-inch diameter in classrooms, 15-inch diameter in cafeteria, gymnasiums, auxiliary gymnasiums and multipurpose rooms" with a "quartz crystal movement, sweeping second hand (and) manual setting knob."

Suspension rooms in middle schools are to measure 1,000 square feet and have carpet, cabinets, a chalk or marker board, a tack board and a spot to put in a pencil sharpener.

In a separate section devoted to colors, the manual suggests that black, white, gray should be avoided in elementary schools.

Warm colors like beige, soft yellow and peach should be used instead, because their wavelengths decrease "nervousness, anxiety and insecurity," the manual says.

Warm colors also "make one feel warmer than the actual temperature."

"This may be beneficial in those schools in northern Ohio," according to the manual.

The manual will be followed, but nothing is mandatory, said Paul Flesher, the Cleveland school district's executive director of facilities.

The state approves most applications for changes or additions, but the process is cumbersome, especially for relatively small requests such as changes in flooring materials, Flesher said.

The manual does provide a solid starting point, he said.

"It would be very difficult to work without one, making sure you have consistency from job to job," Flesher said. "If it didn't exist, we would have to create something."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)