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."
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.
FB: The Gateway News/Bob Gaetjens