LORAIN — Construction of an approximately $132,000, 800-seat auditorium and a
$2.6 million gymnasium for the new Lorain High School was approved Thursday by school board members.
The 1,800-square foot auditorium and gym are being paid for with some of the $9 million in interest on Lorain taxpayers share of the school district’s $215.6 million, 14-building project approved by voters in 2001. State taxpayers are paying 81 percent of the cost of the project. All of the money must be spent on the project in the district which is facing a $4.7 million deficit.
“Everything came in under budget and on time for the whole project and because of that we’re able to do this with no additional cost to the taxpayers,” Superintendent Tom Tucker said.
The auditorium is part of the $73 million school scheduled to open in August 2016 at 2600 Ashland Ave. A public groundbreaking will be held at 1 p.m. Oct. 24.
The school, the largest ever built in Lorain, is the last building in the project which included 10 elementary schools and three middle schools. It will house 1,960 students, 56 less than originally planned. The reduction is due to shrinking enrollment in Lorain.
Board member Jim Smith said opening of the 315,000-square foot high school will be a “game changing event” for the nearly destitute district which is struggling to recruit and retain students after losing about 3,000 over the last decade. Smith said the school will serve generations of Lorain students.
In other business, board members saluted retiring interim Superintendent Ed Branham, a longtime Lorain educator who returned to the district as an interim superintendent in September of last year. Branham, who served a combined 30 years in Lorain including stints as an administrator, coach and teacher, inherited a $12 million deficit from former Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson. He was forced to make 182 layoffs and substantial service cuts which took effect in June. Branham was thanked by board members for making tough decisions and by Tucker — hired in August — for making Tucker’s transition smooth.
“Lorain will always be in my blood,” Branham said.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or email@example.com.