Petition urges Streetsboro Board of Education rethink school building plan

By Bob Gaetjens GAteway News Editor Published:

The Streetsboro Board of Education voted May 9 to send a plan for the future of the district's buildings to the Ohio School Facilities Commission. But at the same meeting, Board members were given a petition with about 200 signatures, asking them to "take a step back and look at all the options," including an alternate facilities plan proposed by the petition's circulators.

The board's plan calls for building a new high school on current City Park property and "renovating" the current high school for use by middle school students.

City resident Jeff Allen said the petition, which he circulated with resident Joe Wolfe, was prepared based on the outcome of a phone survey of 110 probable voters which indicated that the board's current plan for the district's facilities does not have strong enough support.

The board took no action on the petition.

Board member Andy Lesak said he does not have enough information about the phone survey and the data underpinning Allen and Wolfe's alternate plan to consider it.

"Their numbers are just numbers on a piece of paper," said Lesak. "I would entertain any plan with proper time and analysis. With this plan, I didn't have proper time, and I didn't have proper analysis."

But board member Kevin Grimm says discussion might be in order.

The board's plan would necessitate a land swap with the city government, which owns City Park. The deal would trade a portion of City Park for about 120 acres on S.R. 14 stretching from Summers Avenue to Laurel Lane. Under that plan, the city would have to move City Park to the S.R. 14 site.

Grimm said the board needs to be open to ideas since the land swap has not yet been finalized.

"My concern is, if the land swap we discussed is not an option, then we need to have a Plan B," he said.

Superintendent Tim Calfee said the board has consistently received feedback from the community pointing the board toward a high school on the school campus.

"Both last year and this year, the community has clearly said to us, that the vast majority want the new high school located here on the same campus," he said.

Allen said some people misunderstand how the schools' plan would affect City Park.

"When people said they wanted the schools in a campus, (some people) thought that meant the park, too," said Allen.

Grimm said he believes the board; Allen, Wolfe and others working with them; city administration and City Council need to sit down discuss the options still open. However, he agreed time is short.

A bond issue for new building construction could be on the ballot in November.

Phone survey results

The phone survey that Allen referred to was conducted by phone survey company Voice Broadcasting, according Streetsboro business owner Steve Kolar, who helped in the effort.

The survey of 110 individuals found that 38.18 percent of respondents said they "likely will support" the district's current plan. However, 39.09 percent of respondents said they are "not likely to support" the plan, leaving about 22 percent undecided.

Of the respondents, 50.48 percent said they "will consider" an alternate plan that would "achieve similar goals without moving City Park."

About 30 percent of respondents said they "will not consider" an alternate to the School Board's plan.

Allen and Wolfe said they want new facilities for the students but are afraid the School Board's plan won't pass if it's put before voters in November.

Kolar said he thinks there is "still time to make a change."

Alternative offered

Allen and Wolfe's alternate plan would expand and renovate the current middle school to house sixth- through eighth-graders and expand and renovate the high school as a high school almost to point of being an entirely new building, tearing down the wings to the west of gym and adding wings to the east of the current building, keeping the gym and science wing, according to Allen.

Because the expanded high school would overlap the current stadium site, the alternate plan would include building a new stadium near the police station and Route 303. According to Portage County GIS mapping, the proposed new stadium site would be located on city-owned property.

According to the petition, the cost of the School Board's plan to community would be about $40 million, including an estimated $3 million to rebuild City Park on Route 14, while the alternate plan would cost about $32 million and allow the city to keep the Route 14 property to either sell or lease to a sand and gravel operation, according to Allen.

Grimm said the School Board has already decided to keep the stadium where it is, based on the investments in new stands and drainage control it's made in recent years.

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  • In regards to the plan set forth by the school district and in lieu of the fact that there seems to be an alternative plan being presented, I would like to introduce yet another alternative. It seems an inevitable fact that a school will be built. How, when and where is the point that seems to surround the whole issue along with the cost to the citizen. It doesn’t seem practical at this point to move the City Hall or incorporate some of it’s functions over to the Middle School, so closing that doesn’t seem practical for the question then comes up, does the city lease the rooms from the school district and at what costs to the citizens? It is located on the local campus and that is enough reason to keep it as a school building. Enough said about the middle school. Waite School came on line pretty much the same time as the high school but maybe a few years earlier. I agree that we need to close Waite and do it as soon as possible but not for reasons of decay. However, the district should sell the property (we can change the zoning no differently than the city has done in the past), to a private investor or whoever, or the city can pay an amount to the school district as a replacement cost to the school district for money invested. Us the proceeds from the sale of Waite as the funds to extend Campus to accommodate the grades Waite contained. We would not have to close any of the Baseball fields to do this. Enough empty space is allocated between the school and the ball field to accomplish this. The new property owner would not be allowed possession of the property until the new section of Campus is built and the students moved out. Even if it is the city that buys the property, the time it takes for them to come up with an idea to revamp the property will take longer than it will to build the addition. Some things never change. This takes care of the funds needed to expand Campus. No levy support of public funds to complete. Remove the trailers from behind the high school and you will have more than enough room to add 50 rooms if need be. As this addition is being built including a new basketball gym per state specifications, the students still attend the old part of the school. Once the addition is built, the students will move to that addition while in the mean time the old section is razed as needed, the old gym can be converted to an auditorium with permanent seating or used as the sports facility and forget constructing an auditorium. Personally, I don’t feel the need for an auditorium and the return on the investments I don’t think can ever be realized. I just have to be a little realistic about that one. The new section of the part reduced to rubble could then be built with the Board Offices in mind which can then be placed at the west end of the building. The old board office can then be turned over to the city as the land they swapped to build the extension onto campus. How logical is that? The city can then use it as their offices for Parks and Recreation. Imagine, having their office next to the biggest park in our city. How logical is that? We can then add onto the Middle School if necessary to accommodate the 6th grade students. Now in the meeting, it was predicted (not reality), that our district will grow in size. 10 years ago it was predicted by our treasurer and then superintendent that by 2010 our district will have over 4000 students. When he made that statement we had over 2200 students. In 2007 we had 2200 students. In 2013 we have 2058. About five years ago they released a 1st grade teacher out of the 8 we had. It was predicted that we may not have enough students for 7 classes. That number of teachers has remained ever since and the attendance at the same time has dropped even more. Is this the proof the district is using to tell us attendance will increase? Unfortunately I do not, have not or yet to see a way out of the dire straights our economy is in. The new thing we need to jump start is just not foreseeable in the near future. One can only imaging what it might be. Computers were at the core of the economy of the late 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. Once everyone had one and then some, as the quality went up and the required software was in place, the market fell and fell bad. Steel industry doesn’t need to make as many steel frames, motherboards reduced in size and the transition to notebooks, reduced the need. Then, consumers made the move to tablet and phones which are still alive and fulfilling. The requirement of 70% of the populations needs for a computer has changed and browsing along with email are the dominant features and needs. Offices will never fully dissolve from desktops or notebooks for they fill a need that phones or tablets cannot replace unless they come up with some REAL revolutionary voice translation software or device. We have not yet achieved the fluency of Star Trek in any way so far. I’m a tough sell on that one. In the scenario I created, I don’t see a need for any levy or bond having to come before the public. Sure, the contractor handling it so far doesn’t make near as much money (which quite frankly is extremely obvious in his plan and his voice). I didn’t like him referring to us as “we”. He is a contractor, not a citizen or part of the community. He has a vested interest which rewards him so he can never be a “we” unless he is talking about his company and his cohorts (which then makes me wonder if anyone in the district has a vested interest, maybe stock?). I felt very uncomfortable with HIM using WE. It isn’t his money he is spending but that of property tax payers. Rather than take the money from the state to have Waite razed or asbestos abated, I think we could get a lot more if we leave the structure in place. For then the city could utilize it as a recreation area for the public in the surrounding developments and also as a fire station. In all, this is just another idea to show that there are still variations and alternate considerations that can be considered. This is a lot of money and time that is being invested and we should do it wisely. We should have been doing it sooner but as it stands, it is what it is and I hope we make the best of all of it. We really need to scrap the districts current plan and create one the public can live with rather than the contractor. I have really never known of their current idea as it stands, have never heard of it being discussed or any meetings that were going to discuss them. I’m not sure if the board member who made the comment knew of these all along is even talking about this district. You know the one who has been traveling all over the state and nation on the public dime to attend seminars and meetings that will never make an impact to improve funding or education. Many people before her made those trips and taken those classes and it has never helped us. Did any of those classes prepare her for what they about to endure in the next several months? I really hope no one is going around saying I am in favor of any plan. If there was a plan I am in favor of, I just described it as I have over the last 11 years. If there is a plan though that I am totally against and not in favor of, it is the one the district presented at their board meeting. That one is really bad no matter how you look at it. It is going to be an interesting ride. Martin Fleming

  • It is sad that the BOE hasn't really taken time to have multiple public meetings with back and forth dialog about the whole plan. The truth is that having all the buildings at one location, especially upper grade levels is important because many kids go to different buildings for advanced classes. Yet, if the space along side the existing high school was run thru (technically an unfinished part of page road), a new hs at route 14 location connected by road next to church would work. Then just run the shuttle vans we already purchased to move kids back and forth. It all has to come down to compromises. Plus, starting small with new hs and then down the road looking at plans. Truth is, once new hs, could easily move kids around in district and fit all into existing buildings and still shut down Wait and BOE offices. Existing hs would fit BOE and 6th to 8th. It houses 4 grades now, so why not 3 grades and BOE? Then put 4th and 5th in middle school with plenty of room. Leave Campus as is and move Wait kids to Defer. Yes, its a lot of shifting and changing, but would work. Plus save district money and wouldn't need their elaborate plan.

  • This is the best Idea I have heard yet. Personally I think the school board's new plan is terrible, just about as terrible as selling the property on Rt. 43 to the city for 1 dollar. Leave the city park where it is. Build additions onto the schools that need enlarging. Move the stadium if need be, and finally quit over populating our city. There is no need to keep building more and more apartments here, they are everywhere now. If we could afford to move we would, just because of all the strange people we see walking down our streets now, that we never use to see. The way the city has grown is terrible in my opinion, this used to be a nice little boro, where a person could raise a family, and now its like intercity Akron where the police have to profile everyone, because crime is on the rise and they have to go to big city law enforcement just to keep up with the rapid rise in the population.If the people that govern the city would NOT have allowed all these new apartments to go in, we would NOT be discussing enlarging the schools. Way to go planning commission and city council.

  • Tear it all down and build a new Taj Mahal. It will be glorious! Then teach the children why we can no longer launch people into space but have to get Russia to do it. Maybe we should send our children to Russia to launch them into life.