December 22, 2014

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Committee pushing to replace 90-year-old North Ridgeville middle school

North Ridgeville Middle School, seen in this 2004 file photo, CHRONICLE FILE

North Ridgeville Middle School, seen in this 2004 file photo, has fallen into disrepair, and needs to be replaced. The district is hoping voters approve a levy to replace the 90-year-old building. CHRONICLE FILE

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The committee charged with convincing voters that a new middle school is very much needed to replace the existing 90-year-old building is keeping busy with Election Day three weeks away.

“We’re really trying to get people in the community, and not just parents, to see the building,” Marci Saxon, chairwoman of the North Ridgeville Citizens for Better Schools committee said this week.

“Pictures do not do it justice,” Saxon said of the degree of deterioration and disrepair to the current middle school brought on by age and other problems, including flooding, the past few years.

“Anyone who knows about these facilities knows we can’t cram any more students into them,” Saxon said of the middle school, as well as Wilcox and Liberty Elementary Schools.

Wilcox and Fields-Sweet, a 93-year-old building that houses the district’s EarlyChildhoodLearningCenter for preschoolers, ages 3 to 5, would be taken out of service if voters approve a $58.1 million, 34-year bond issue to build a new middle school for students in grades 3 to 8 on district-owned land next to North RidgevilleHigh School.

“You can’t repair those buildings, because in many instances you can no longer get parts to fix things,” Saxon said.

Wilcox was built in 1958.

School officials have deemed a new middle school crucial in light of enrollment at nearly 1,000 sixth- to eighth-graders in a building constructed in 1923 to house 780.

“The community just continues to grow, and we have to grow with it,” Saxon said. “The school is so old and overcrowded that it’s not in the best condition to provide a quality education.”

The school was deemed to be in such disrepair that it led to North Ridgeville being ranked first on the list of 24 Ohio school systems that had applied to the Ohio School Facilities Commission’s Exceptional Needs Program for money to build new schools.

Judging from feedback being received from the public, “people understand what the need is and say they plan to vote ‘yes,’ even those without children in the school system,” Saxon said.

“They realize strong schools raise their property values and bring business into our community,” Saxon added. “People definitely get it (the need for a new school).”

Joseph DeLuca of Fanning Howey, the Columbus-area firm hired to build the new school, told campaign officials earlier that a major focus should be the projected 40 percent of undecided voters.

DeLuca estimated 5,800 “yes” votes would be needed out to approve the bond issue out of the anticipated 10,000 residents expected to vote this year.

DeLuca also advised the group not to dwell on what he termed the “hardcore 30 percent who vote ‘no’ regardless.”

“Some people simply can’t afford it as they’re on a fixed income,” Saxon said. “We understand that and are respectful of it.”

The committee’s next tours of the middle school will follow a free spaghetti dinner at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 in the school’s cafeteria.

“We’re going to include a scavenger hunt to get people to look at all different areas of the school, including those most in need of repair,” Saxon said.

The 4.95-mill bond issue would cost owners of homes valued at $100,000 about $14.50 a month.

Saxon is running for one of three board of education seats up for grabs Nov. 5.

Anyone wishing to attend the dinner is asked to call (440) 724-8359 or email tracytikoswiese@me.com before Oct. 21.

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