New Middle School Site to be Chosen Soon
District is also bringing on architect to help guide plans for project
A task force that developed a $145 million plan to improve and replace Strongsville's school buildings is expected to recommend a site for a new middle school within the next two or three weeks.
Ken Evans, a Facilities Committee member, said Thursday that the task force is now studying the best location for a proposed new middle school and will have a recommendation "hopefully by the end of June, beginning of July."
The site originally proposed -- a 17-acre school-owned parcel next to Strongsville High School-- may be too small, officials have said.
Feedback from residents has indicated voters won't consider an $81 million bond issue on the November ballot unless they know all the details of the plan.
The school board, which voted 5-0 Thursday night to place the issue before voters, said the details will be made public well in advance of the election.
Evans said he has also heard questions from residents about replacing schools rather than fixing the existing buildings.
The two-phased plan calls for the district to build a new middle school and make wide-ranging improvements at the high school over the next few years.
In Phase 2, the district would return to voters with another bond issue to tackle issues at the elementary schools. The task force's suggestion is to build three new elementary schools and renovate Muraski and Kinsner.
At Thursday's School Board meeting, Evans said the cost of building a new middle school is $41 million, while repair estimates for the existing two middle schools total $26.5 million.
Repairs at the elementary schools total $35 million, while the plan to build new ones would cost $42.8 million.
Evans said the committee felt it would be wiser in the long run to invest the extra money now in new buildings than put a "band-aid" on structures that are decades old.
In addition, officials believe combining the two middle schools into one will save operating costs.
Bringing in a Pro
Business Manager Mark Donnelly said the district is in the process of bringing on an architect who will help guide the planning of the new middle school.
He said 11 firms responded to the district's request for proposals, and he has narrowed the field to four.
One firm will come in for an interview July 9, and the other three will be interviewed July 10.
"We're trying to get somebody on board quickly," Donnelly said.
School officials have said they intend to bring on professionals who agree to work on a contingency basis, knowing their payment depends on voter approval of the $81 million bond issue in the fall.