A Closer Look at Schools' $145 Million Plan
Why the district is taking at a two-phased approach to fixing buildings
School officials last week announced a $145 million plan to renovate or rebuild all the district's school buildings over the next few years.
The plan is broken into two phases. The first would begin next year, if voters in November approve an $81 million bond issue, and would pay to build a new middle school for grades 6, 7 and 8; make $27 million in improvements to Strongsville High School; make $3.5 million in "critical repairs" to elementary schools; and demolish the Allen, Center and Albion buildings.
Phase 2 would follow a few years later. A separate bond issue would pay to build three new elementary schools in Wards 1, 2 and 3; rebuild part of Muraski and renovate Kinsner; and demolish the other elementary buildings.
Why no expansion at the high school?
While the school is crowded now, enrollment projections show that the number of students is declining pretty rapidly, according to the Facilities Task Force, a group of residents, teachers and school officials who came up with the plan.
In a few years, the students will fit comfortably in the building, the task force says.
Why build new elementary schools?
The committee had concerns about putting "major money" into buildings that are 40 years old, task force member George Grozan said.
Member Ken Evans said the group is looking to the future.
"We feel it is more expensive to invest in buildings that have a short-term life span," he said.
Only 5 elementary schools?
Again, declining enrollment shows the district won't need seven grade schools -- especially if sixth-graders move to a new middle school.
Why does Kinsner need renovations? It's not that old
Its heating and air conditioning system needs to be overhauled, and like the rest of the buildings, it was not built to accommodate today's technology, the report says.
Why two phases? Why not ask for $145 million now and tackle all the needs?
First, because families are still recovering from the economic downturn, said Mark Donnelly, the schools' business manager. Many can't afford a tax increase now.
Also, because the needs at the secondary schools are "more pressing," he said.
In addition, Assistant Superintendent John Krupinski said waiting will allow the district to get a better handle on enrollment before moving ahead with elementary school plans.
Will voters really pass two bond issues?
Yes, officials say, and here's why.
The $81 million issue will not raise taxes very much because an old bond issue is expiring. Homeowners now pay $77 a year per $100,000 in home valuation. The new issue would cost $95, for an increase of $18 a year.
Consolidating the middle schools will save money, which could ultimately delay the time when the district has to seek a new operating levy.
Voters will see that consolidating elementary schools -- as well as tearing down unneeded buildings and reducing maintenance and energy expenses in old buildings -- will also lower operating costs and be a better deal in the long run.
"Beyond the positive impact of new buildings on the community and students, there will be operating efficiencies that reduce expenses," the report says.
Seems like things are moving fast. Why the rush?
The main reason to get the bond issue on the ballot this year is to take advantage of the expiring issues. It's easier to sell voters on an $18-a-year tax increase than $95 a year, officials say.
After that, things will slow considerably, the report says. It projects construction on the middle school will start in mid-2014; the school would open in the fall of 2015.
• The task force's full report is available on the school district's website.