October 25, 2014

Intermittent clouds

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.

  • brewmaster

    No mention that almost 14% of that $58.1 million will be used for construction of a football stadium. Why is a new stadium projected to cost $8 million when Hudson HS just built a new one of similar size for $5.5 million? And no tax dollars was used for theirs.

    • NR2004

      not defending the system at all. personally why do we need a new stadium? the one we have now doesn’t work? there’s a lot more wealth in the hudson area then in north ridgeville. could be part of the reason. you’d need some big businesses to chip in. because people have been voting down the tax levies. what makes anyone think they’re going to be willing to donate for a stadium?

      • brewmaster

        I agree Hudson does have a higher household income. But the point is effort was made to go out and get the funds necessary. Ravenna just spent $750,000 to upgrade their stadium, again private funds were used. Midview went out and got the money necessary to put artificial turf on their field.

        On the mailer that was sent out, one of the points for the need of a new stadium was to prepare the athletes to compete at the next level. So taxpayers, many who are paying student loans or funding their own childrens college education should dig a little deeper in the hopes that a very small percentage will go on to compete in college and possibly get a scholarship.

  • scunnered74

    Those buildings are fine. New surroundings are not going to make a difference to a child’s education. And why, pray tell, would Wilcox be unused??

  • brewmaster

    The middle school is overcrowded and does need to be replaced.
    The age of the school has nothing to do with the flooding problems but the location does. The new school is to be built next to the high school which had flooding problems in 2011. The excuse of things being broken and not repairable is laughable. You don’t tear down you house and build a new one just because parts are not available for your furnace.
    They claim that a field with artificial turf will be less maintenance costs, but no mention of replacing the turf every 10-12 years at a cost of $400,000. Avon just replaced theirs after only 7 years but were able to negotiate a reduced price of $295,000.
    Will the middle school property really be appealing to potential buyers? The property is kind of odd shaped, a narrow street frontage and long depth will limit its uses. The nicest buildings at the intersection are slated to be torn done for the Center Ridge widening project.

    Superintendent Jim Powell stated at a meeting that it was important to be open, honest and offer transperancy to residents. I don’t think that is happening.

  • 440patty

    The traffic problem on Bainbridge is already a nightmare when dropping off/picking up kids with only the high school there presently. That problem has been ongoing and has not been addressed. Why hasn’t anyone fixed this problem with traffic before adding more?

  • JustJenn142

    It is my understanding that the school is moving to a location on Bainbridge. If the school is moving, they would need to build a stadium to go with it. I am all for the school moving.the traffic jam up every morning and after games is horrendous. Plus if we leave the stadium where it is, who will buy the property?

    As for the buildings being just fine, that is a joke. They are in horrible condition. There is no room. These buildings were built when the community was much smaller. Like it or not, our community ha grown by leaps and bounds, we have to put the kids somewhere.

    • brewmaster

      Why does the stadium need to be near the school? Elyria’s stadium is not at the school, Avon’s is at the middle school, St Ignatius plays their home games in Parma. Parmas 3 schools all share one field.

  • Joe

    I would said that saying the schools are fine is a big joke. I’ve been to every building in the district the buildings are falling apart (the middle being the worse). I’ve also been in the schools when they are in session and to say they are overcrowded is the truth. Anyone who is against the bond issue needs to take a tour of the middle school, if you call the principal is willing to schedule a tour of the school. Kids need issue 33 to pass.

  • Tonya Shaffer Stillwell

    From what I understand, the current stadium is also in disrepair and we are at risk of losing a conference to even play in due to other teams not wanting to play on our field. If we demolish the building and leave the current stadium, money would still need to be put into the stadium to improve drainage so that the field was playable in all types of weather, as well as repair to the stands, adding locker rooms that are now located inside the middle school. Their was also an appraisal done and the schools can get more money ( something like $2.3 million) for sale of the land where the middle school sits if they also sell the land that the stadium sits on. So it is either, a.) demolish the current middle school, have to dump a whole ton of money into improvements for the old stadium, and not get as much for the land or b.) pass the levy, build the new school, a new stadium, and get more money for the land that is prime commercial property at the corner of 83 and 20.