State OKs $5 million grant for Garfield schools

By Marc Kovac R-C Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- The state Controlling Board signed off on James A. Garfield's $5 million grant as part of a consolidation effort involving the Glen Haley Cleveland Area YMCA, the Portage County Educational Center and Hiram College.

The proposed project by James A. Garfield will close the Park Avenue Intermediate School, which houses students in grades 5 and 6. Those students would then move to a future 20,000-square-foot addition to the elementary school. The Park Avenue School, built in 1939, would then be repurposed.

In November, Superintendent Ted Lysiak said the project would help students by lengthening the instructional day, eliminating the need for shuttling students and allowing the district to pool its resources, better share staff and allow the district to partner with local organizations. He estimates the move would save the district more than $300,000, which would be put toward technology improvements.

In all, the board approved more than $88 million in grants to help schools cut their costs and better teach children.

The total also included funding for projects at districts in Trumbull and Stark counties.

The lawmaker panel left intact all 24 grant suggestions offered by state education officials in the first round of a program backed by Gov. John Kasich and included in the state's $62 billion biennial budget earlier this year.

A total of $250 million -- $100 million in the current fiscal year and $150 million in the next one -- was earmarked for grants for new technology or other projects aimed at improving student achievement, reducing costs and directing more state funding into classrooms.

A new governing board reviewed applications and offered its recommendations for funding during a meeting earlier this month.

Among the recipients was North Canton City Schools, in partnership with Walsh University, which will receive nearly $4.6 million to increase course offerings while reducing staff and building operation costs.

And the Trumbull Career & Technical Center will receive close to $300,000 to offer nutritious school lunches, increase physical activity and implement other changes to help students and staff adopt healthier lifestyles.

In other business Monday, the Controlling Board:

Released more than $2.7 million for a new science lab and nursing building at Kent State University's Stark campus. The 41,140-square-foot facility will house "new teaching labs, general classrooms, computer classroom, faculty offices and student spaces" according to documents.

Approved $407,555 for projects at five state natural areas, with new parking planned for the Sheepskin Hollow Nature Preserve in Columbiana County and an expanded pole building at Eagle Creek Nature Preserve in Portage County.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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