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Lay Facilities Committee Votes to Recommend Wiley Closing

Committee will recommend that Gearity host elementary schools in University Heights under Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools restructure plan

Closing Wiley Middle School would save Cleveland Heights-University Heights an estimated $17 million on facilities restructure costs, the Lay Facilities Committee learned Wednesday.

The cost of the scenarios the committee requested is estimated to be between $255 and $279 million dollars, according to information presented at Wednesday’s Lay Facilities Committee meeting.

These estimates include all the improvements the committee would like to see, though the final version will likely be scaled down and cheaper.

The committee, created by the CH-UH School Board at the recommendation of FutureHeights and Reaching Heights, is tasked with examining the facilities master plan and determining what aspects of the plan the community would support.

The district is expected to ask voters for a bond issue in November to fund the restructure.

In January, the committee presented six scenarios to reconfigure the district by closing some schools and using only the property that the district already owns — and cut the number of open schools in the disctrict from 11 to seven or eight. Last month they asked for pricing on two versions of one of those scenarios.

The committee also asked for the cost of keeping all seven of the district's elementary schools open — not because it's a probable scenario, but to provide the committee context for the other two scenarios.

The committee will likely recommend some variation on the options presented by the consultants Wednesday, but the numbers give some perspective about what each aspect of the plan could cost.

For $260 million, the district could:

  • Rebuild Boulevard
  • Close Fairfax, Noble, and Wiley
  • Renovate the four remaining elementary schools and the high school
  • Have the square footage for 20 percent growth
  • Install geothermal HVAC at each building

It would cost $279 to use the same plan, but leave Wiley open and close Gearity.

But the scenario that kept all seven elementary schools open — $278 million — is difficult to compare to those above: it did not include the same renovations on the schools — it only renovated each building enough to keep them open — and did not take into account the estimated $60 million in labor costs over the 30-year bond issue to staff the two extra schools.

In addition to the scenarios the committee requested, the consultants presented a third plan with an alternate version of the high school renovation that would save the district about $5 million.

The committee will meet again April 30 and possibly once before that to continue evaluating these options.

Garry Kanter April 11, 2013 at 09:08 AM
Of course, if this year's Phase I bond levy passes, which could generate no more than $140 million, the district will have reached their borrowing limit. Then, in 2014, the district's borrowing limit goes *down* by $54 million. That's why they're in such a rush to pass a bond levy in 2013. (Lower property values finally catch up with us, or the state's formulas, anyways.) So there's no explanation, and I asked repeatedly at last night's meeting, for how they'll be able to pass a bond levy for Phase II - the elementaries.
Garry Kanter April 11, 2013 at 09:10 AM
But don't get caught up on the elementaries, anyways. You'll only be voting Yes or No on the new taxes. And Phase I is just the high school, at $104 MILLION, and two junior highs. Some future school board in 2020 or so, that hasn't even been elected yet, will decide on the elementaries.
Garry Kanter April 11, 2013 at 09:12 AM
Oh, and according to the consultant's presentation's cover sheet, it's the "ALUMNI FOUNDATION HIGH SCHOOL", and the cost estimates for it's renovation anticipate a 20% growth in enrollment. Funny how when I graduated from the place it was just good ol' Heights High.

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