Should Site of New Middle School Be Changed?
Officials have to make a decision quickly on a proposed location
Strongsville Schools' Business Manager Mark Donnelly doesn't believe a new middle school should be built on a 17-acre district-owned parcel near the high school.
"My concern is the building won't fit there," Donnelly said. "There's no room for athletic fields. There will be no football field, no track."
He'd rather put the new building on the current Center Middle School site.
But do that, and you lose the money -- probably a few million dollars -- you'd get in selling the prime real estate on which Center sits.
"The plan was to sell that property and earmark that money for technology (improvements) in the schools," said Ward 3 Councilman Jim Carbone, who helped develop the proposal to build a new middle school.
The proposal calls for the school district to put a $72 million bond issue on the November ballot, with about $55 million going to build a middle school and the rest to make structural and technology upgrades in the other buildings.
The timing is crucial. The new issue would replace other bonds that are being paid off, meaning a tax increase of only about $8 a year for each $100,000 in home valuation.
School board member Carl Naso said last week that officials have to decide two things by the end of May: the location of the new middle school and what grade levels it would serve -- keep it at 7th and 8th-graders, or have 6th-graders there, too.
The location may prove to be the trickiest part of the project.
Crews have already taken soil samples from the 17-acre site, located off Pearl Road behind Jardine Funeral Home, to see if it is buildable. Results should be in later this month.
But Donnelly said middle schools typically require 30 acres. He said the Center site already had the acreage, as well as the athletic fields.
Albion Middle School is another possibility, but Donnelly said it is not centrally location. The former Allen Elementary School has also been discussed as a site.
"The nice thing is that we have other options," Carbone said.
It appears a decision will have to be made within a few weeks, though. The school board has until July 9 to put the bond issue on the fall ballot, and certain aspects of the plan have to be included in the issue.
The district has set four public meetings to solicit opinions.