ELYRIA — Residents on Elyria’s south side took to heart plans to mobilize in an effort to reach school board members before a decision is made that could strip the neighborhood of a planned new elementary school.
Tuesday evening, more than two dozen residents attended an emergency 5th Ward community meeting called by Councilman Marcus Madison. Held at Jones Chapel A.M.E. Church, residents discussed how to address school officials today at a school board meeting.
With school board President Kevin Brubaker in attendance Tuesday, the community meeting gave them great practice.
“You are going to lose a lot by getting rid of the school on the south side,” said mother of three Kim Marbury.
With a kindergartner, second-grader and third-grader at Franklin Elementary School, Marbury said she chose to enroll her children into the neighborhood school and found a building full of dedicated teachers and support programs designed with students in mind. She said without an elementary school on the south side, her fears are that the same teachers will not be available for students and the programs will no longer exists.
Residents like Marbury have such fears after school board members heard a proposal Saturday that calls for the district to change its master plan from a five-school plan to a three-school plan, eliminating an elementary school on the city’s south side and in the St. Jude neighborhood. The idea is to circumvent growing budget concerns that could cause millions of dollars in cost overruns by reducing the number of schools built.
School officials have yet to make a decision, which is why residents are hoping a little old-fashioned taxpayer pressure can make the difference. While the majority of voters in the city said yes in November 2016 to the 3.86-mill, 35-year bond issue, the 5th Ward showed the most support in the city, with nearly 70 percent of voters casting a ballot favoring the school issue that is providing part of the funding for the building plan.
“It seems like the south side always gets left out,” said Roger Johnson of Homesite Court. “We support all the levies overwhelmingly, but when it comes to the south side, we get left behind. But we keep supporting. One day we are going to wake up and when (school officials) come to us, we will say we don’t know you.”
Brubaker didn’t promise residents a school by his appearance at the meeting, but he did say he would continue to do everything possible to fulfill the promise made to residents.
“I don’t want to say trust me or believe me because you trusted and believed when you voted,” he said. “But what I am saying is the contractors and consultants were told to go back to the drawing board and find another proposal. What (the board) got Saturday was a proposal, we don’t have to accept any proposal.”
For many residents who have concerns about parents without vehicles having the transportation to get their youngest students to school in the event they miss a bus, or how community connections will be lost without the anchor a school provides, any thing less than a school would be unacceptable.
“No school is not an option,” said south side resident Miriam Ham.
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