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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 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 ; make $3.5 million in "critical repairs" to elementary schools; and demolish the , and 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 and renovate ; 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.

lyn June 15, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Louise, not only do I want to know the location prior to voting, but I want to know prior to it being put on the ballot. I think they want to go ahead with the process of putting it on the ballot NOW, and are planning to have the other info to present to the citizens after the deadline but before the vote, because I don't think they will know in time for putting it on the ballot all the results from the "experts". I think the location SHOULD BE MENTIONED, ABSOLUTELY, in the levy - and not left vague as to where it is built. That should be a REQUIREMENT before putting it on the ballot. I am afraid they will inflate the amount needed to insure they have enough funds to cover all possible contingencies of where they might need it to be, what kind of improvements they might have to make to that 5 acres of wetland in the 17 by the high school, or what else might be a possibility. But that is NOT how you approach a construction project. You should know your location and what all land and building costs will be for THAT SPECIFIC PARCEL OF LAND that you are building upon.
lyn June 15, 2012 at 12:47 AM
There should not be a RUSH to put this on the November ballot. Are we forgetting a couple of things? -This property they want to build on, by the high school, that is probably too small for what is needed, was acquired in 2005. So, they bought this 7 years ago, without knowing IF it could be used for a middle school. But, they have known for 7 years that they have wanted to put one there. So, why all this scrambling around now to cram the levy down our throats without specifics? -Also, as stated above, "The main reason to get the bond issue on the ballot this year is to take advantage of the expiring issues." They have known for a long time that the other issues were expiring, so, once again, why all the scrambling around at the last minute? This is no new news or surprise - just another indication that the board has not been on top of things. Instead of waiting until the last minute to try and get this on the ballot, before having all the facts and info, the board could have acted sooner to gather the necessary facts and studies to present, instead of being slipshod in their handling of this. Its rush, rush, rush now - and should not have been necessary if they were more attentive to their duties. So, I strongly suggest, SLOW DOWN and DO IT RIGHT, and GET THE NUMBERS RIGHT.
lyn June 15, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Plus, what are we going to be asked for when the teachers contract is negotiated? Is that also going to be another levy? Are will the board finally take a firm stand? I would like to see what Brecksville has done - publish, put on the website, the proposed terms for the voters to see, transparency - PLEASE!
Janet June 15, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Lyn--I think you should run for the school board. You have my vote!!
joe simonton June 15, 2012 at 01:13 AM
that is a great point

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