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Architects Propose 2 CH-UH School Design Ideas

Plans would close about a half a dozen schools

Architects working on a facilities master plan for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District presented two construction proposals at a meeting Wednesday night that would close about a half a dozen schools.

In “Design Idea A,” remains a high school, and pre-kindergarten through eighth grade campuses are created at , and .

In “Design Idea B,” Heights High remains a high school, K-8 campuses are created at Roxboro and Wiley and PK-3 programs exist at , and Coventry.

The two options were narrowed down from nine original plans.

In both proposals, the would move to the (the former Taylor Road Academy), and the options center would move to .

Option A keeps approximately 820,000 square feet of the more than 1.5 million the district has now and would cost $200 million to $206 million create. Option B at 848,422 square feet would cost $210 million to $215 million. Both assume the enrollment of about 6,000 students will remain steady and planning and construction would take three to five years.

Much of it would be paid for with a bond, which could be presented to voters as early as this year’s November election.

Superintendent Douglas Heuer said a bond could pay for up to $160 million of it legally, but that would be approximately 5 mills or more, and he wants to ask residents for "significantly less."

Idea A would save the district $1.1 million to $1.4 million annually in utility costs, and $5 million to $6.9 million per year in operational costs, though they did not provide specifics about staffing cuts with the new plan.

Idea B would save the district about the same amount in utility costs and $4.3 million to $6.3 million in operational costs.

The architecture firms working on the plans and cost estimates — Minneapolis-based , Fanning Howey of Dublin, OH, and local firms studioTECHNE and Regency Construction — provided specific changes that would be made to Heights High, and will provide more details about the other sites at the next meeting March 21.

The original core of Heights High, built in 1925, would be preserved, and the old additions would be demolished. With the science wing removed, the front that faces Cedar Road would serve as the main entrance.

The plans call for new additions, a bus loop in the front and “learning community” classrooms that provide space for lecture, big group meetings, small group work and individual work in one large room. This set up would better personalize and differentiate students' educations, and help teachers implement best practices that they are already utilizing now.

Pilots of the learning community classrooms in an elementary, middle and high school could be ready as early as this fall. The architects emphasized that this is not the open classroom model seen at schools like Boulevard and .

Residents said they were concerned that a natatorium or athletic fields were not included in the high school design.

But the other huge piece of the facilities plan is how the district plans to reuse the closed schools. One idea is to build athletic facilities at the closed sites. Other sites could become health and wellness centers, art institutions, community gardens and more.

The Heights High Social Room was packed Wednesday night and residents asked several questions at the end of the three-hour meeting. Look for more highlights from the meeting soon.

For more background about what prompted the district to renovate its schools,

Related articles:

An earlier version of this article indicated in Design Idea B that there would be PK programs at Wiley and Roxboro. The PK programs would only be at Oxford, Canterbury and Coventry.

Heather Price February 24, 2012 at 05:37 PM
As a current pre-K parent (my twins are in special ed at Gearity), I guess I don't understand how design B could have pre-K programs in 5 different locations---- currently, the Gearity Pre-K program is a community and thriving with a nice number of children/ classes (I don't know as much about the new Noble offshoot). Breaking up this group into 5 different locations would mean much smaller pre-K programs with many of the programs not having the special needs integration which is so unique and wonderful in our community (I would imagine all the special needs kids would be at one campus?). So each location would have one or 2 pre-K classes, but not the larger more involved community feel we have now. Unless the plan is to seriously increase pre-K enrollment somehow. Plan A puts the preschoolers at only 3 different campuses and costs a bit less in the short run than Plan B so I GUESS that's the lesser of two evils, but I do want to learn more.
Michelle Simakis February 24, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Thanks all for reading and sharing your thoughts. Heather, there would be three PK programs in "Design Idea B." Roxboro and Wiley are just K-8 programs. I've clarified that above.
Susan Miller February 24, 2012 at 08:36 PM
"The plans call for new additions, a bus loop in the front", so while I love the idea of revealing the historic front, the bus parking and that traffic pattern on Cedar so close to the business district and the intersection of Cedar and Lee, seems ill conceived. Now you see it, now you don't. I also question the loss of the embodied energy in the massive parts of the building that they intend to demolish. Has anyone calculated the loss of embodied energy? Doesn't seem like it, or maybe they just didn't present those calculations. Hard to tell. Apparently after looking at the master plan blog and the master plan facebook page today, the presenters and the school board aren't quite on top of uploading powerpoints or the information they presented at this last interminable meeting. There's scant information for review or consideration given the announcement of a costly project that changes the schools dramatically. I do wish they would post the plans they showed and the budget numbers as well. Open and transparent is the best way to foster citizen engagement.
Jodi Sourini February 26, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I'm not in favor of K-8 in one building. It exposes the younger kids to too many older influences at a young age in the building, on the bus, etc. In fact, one of the main reasons I choose to send my child to Heights instead of one of the many private schools in the area is because Heights was NOT K-8. Often, what looks great as a cost savings on paper simply doesn't work in reality--has many negative unforeseen consequences.
John Hubbard July 13, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Please consider signing this petition essentially asking the CH-UH Board of Ed to allow a year of honest community dialog before asking our community for $130 Million. http://www.change.org/petitions/cleveland-heights-university-heights-board-of-education-remove-plan-c-from-consideration-for-the-november-2012-ballot

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