April 20, 2014

Elyria
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Funds for North Ridgeville Middle School near state approval

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The North Ridgeville school district cleared a major hurdle with Thursday’s announcement that the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission has approved $8.9 million toward construction of a new school.

The state money is seen as a key component in the project, anticipated to cost more than $50 million. The school will serve students in third through eighth grades.

“That is awesome news,” Superintendent Jim Powell said. “Our kids and our community deserve this.”

The new school would replace the current middle school that was built in 1923 and be on school-owned land near the high school as part of a long-range plan to have all of the district’s buildings in a centralized campus, Powell said.

The $8.9 million, less than the $9.3 million in state money originally projected for the new school, represents 17 percent of total costs for a new school.

The money will come from the commission’s Exceptional Needs Program designed to replace school buildings considered to be in the worst shape.

The new school would ease crowding at Liberty and Wilcox elementary schools, each of which has 130 to 250 more students than it was designed to hold.

The state funds must be approved by the State Controlling Board, which is expected to give its OK, Powell said.

From the time the state money is approved, the schools have a year in which to seek and get voter approval of a bond issue to cover the remainder of construction costs.

If voters do not pass a bond issue, the state money would return to a pool that could be used by other school districts on the waiting list.

School officials hope to have a new school open by the 2016-17 school year.

The district also is looking at possible upgrades to the new school, which they say may cost more initially but should result in savings over the long haul.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.