July 26, 2014

Elyria
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Officials break ground for new $73 million Lorain High School

LORAIN — When the new Lorain High School opens, Tatum Hall plans to attend.

“Both of my brothers are and will be graduates from Lorain City Schools, and I’m proud to continue the tradition at the new Lorain High School,” Tatum, an Admiral King Elementary School fifth-grader, said at Wednesday’s groundbreaking for the school.

Tatum — who urged the audience of about 75 people to vote for the Issue 39 school levy — was among the dignitaries praising the $73 million new school expected to open in August 2016. High school sophomores, juniors and seniors are attending the former Southview High School until the new school opens, and freshmen are attending the nearby former Southview Middle School.

The approximately 315,000-square-foot new school at 2600 Ashland Ave. is projected to house about 1,900 students. It will include a three-floor academic wing, an 800-seat auditorium, a career tech center and a gymnasium. The school is the last in a 14-building project — with 10 elementary schools and three middle schools — approved by voters in 2001.

“It’s been not necessarily easy, but it’s been well worth it,” Superintendent Tom Tucker said of the project, which he said has been on schedule and under budget. “This facility is truly going to be a community learning center.”

Proponents hope the school will anchor student recruitment and retention in the nearly destitute school district likely to be taken over by the state in the spring. Depopulation and competition from charter schools has resulted in enrollment declining by about 3,000 students over the last decade. Each student lost costs the district about $5,700 in state taxpayer money annually.

Mayor Chase Ritenauer praised those involved in the project, which he said had taken “twists and turns.” Ritenauer said a state-of-the-art high school is “integral” in overcoming challenges faced by the cash-strapped district and a city dealing with a budget shortfall and high unemployment.

“Today marks the beginning of a project that will showcase an investment in Lorain education for decades to come,” he said. “A new high school in no way diminishes the work left to do or the need for continued support for the community, but what it does is it catapults Lorain’s high school into the upper echelon regionally and statewide.”

The school replaces the former Admiral King High School, which opened in 1961 and was renamed Lorain High School in 2010 as part of the merger with Southview. Some of the speakers and audience attended the former Admiral King, which is scheduled to be demolished in December.

They included David Arredondo, Lorain County Republican Party vice chairman, who represented state Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, at the ceremony. While pleased about the new school, Arredondo said he was sad to see Admiral King go.

“The memories that Admiral King produced for us, Southview as well and Lorain High School, will stay with us forever,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.