CH-UH School Board Votes 3-2 to Approve Facilities Master Plan
The district also voted 3-2 on first reading to put an estimated 130.6 million bond issue on the November ballot to pay for a portion of the plan.
The Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board voted 3-2 to approve the facilities master plan, a $206.2 million project that will reconfigure and renovate buildings in the district and calls for closing three elementary schools.
Board members made the decision during a regular meeting July 3 at the Deborah Delisle Educational Options Center and officially selected Plan C, one of the ideas presented to the board and community for renovating the schools and recommended to the board by Superintendent Doug Heuer.
School Board president Karen Jones, vice president Eric Coble and member Nancy Peppler voted yes, while members Ron Register and Kal Zucker voted no.
Before voting, each board member explained his or her support or rejection of the plan.
The board also voted 3-2, with Register and Zucker dissenting, on first reading to put a $130.6 million, 36-year bond issue on the November ballot, which would be an estimated 5.9 mills. (It was determined that 5.9 mills would result in this amount instead of the estimated $137.2 million discussed at the last meeting due to a projected decrease in property valuation.)
Residents would pay an estimated $186 per year per $100,000 of property valuation under that millage amount if voters approve the bond in November.
In order to be able to issue a bond higher than the district’s current debt capacity of $90 million, board members also voted 4-1 to approve a resolution designating CH-UH a special needs district. Zucker voted no.
In order to acquire money for another portion of the project, the board also approved a resolution with a 4-1 vote to adopt the comprehensive plan so that the district can qualify for funding from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. Register voted no.
The commission’s report, released in April 2010, is what prompted the district to study the condition of its facilities. The OSFC’s findings indicated the buildings were antiquated and the district needed to perform a major overhaul, and that based on current and projected drops in enrollment, the district needed to reduce its square footage.
That’s when the district formed the Citizens Facilities Committee, which concluded its report in July 2011 confirming the OSFC’s findings. The committee suggested that the district hire experts to work on a comprehensive plan and update district buildings.
The district then hired StudioTECHNE, Fielding Nair, Fanning Howey and Regency Construction Services to work on a plan and scheduled a series of meetings to share plans and ideas with the community.
Plan C calls for renovating and reconfiguring schools by 2022, starting with Cleveland Heights High School and ending with the elementary schools, with the following details:
- Reduce Cleveland Heights High School by more than 100,000 square feet while renovating its remaining historic core. New construction space is figured into that amount. The school's stadium, auditorium and pool would all be entirely redone. The school would provide education for 1,680 students.
- Convert the district's three middle schools into intermediate schools for grades four through eight. Portions of Roxboro and Monticello will be removed, and the remainder of the buildings would be fully renovated. Wiley would be completely renovated. Each school would carry an enrollment of 700 students.
- Convert Canterbury, Oxford and Roxboro elementary schools into pre-kindergarten-to-third-grade structures for 495 students apiece. Demolish Boulevard Elementary School and entirely reconstruct it, and house the same primary grade levels. Renovate the existing space in Canterbury, Oxford and Roxboro.
The board must vote on the millage amount once its confirmed by the county fiscal officer on second reading, and will likely vote on the final ballot language at a special meeting set for July 17.