Demolition progress of the old North Ridgeville Middle School Apr. 12. The North Ridgeville School District plans on selling the property, located at 35895 Center Ridge Road.
STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE Enlarge
As desks and chairs piled up outside North Ridgeville Middle School and Wilcox Elementary School, pending the buildings’ demolitions, residents expressed concerns that usable materials are being wasted by the district.
Jack Bahle, of North Ridgeville, is one of the residents who has said that the desks could have been repaired and used in other buildings or sold to other districts. He estimated there were 800 to 1,000 desks piled at the middle school when his son went up to take pictures of the demolition last week.
“This pile was mammoth,” he said. “This is that throw-away society, everything in their life is a Bic lighter and when it’s out of gas, you throw it away.”
According to North Ridgeville Schools Superintendent Jim Powell, when the district accepted bids for the abatement and demolition process, that included hiring a company, Moderalli Excavating, to come in and try to resell any objects from the buildings that had value.
“Before we even did that, we went in and removed all the things that we could reuse in the district,” he said. “For example, wireless access points that we had in the buildings, we removed those and we could reuse those. There were some smart boards that were reusable, and then there were some that were really old and not even supported with software any more. So we then left those behind.”
The desks that could be reused were moved to other buildings in the district, including the high school and Liberty Elementary, Powell said. Then, Moderalli Excavating came in and auctioned anything remaining of value.
“If they can’t resell it, they look at schools or places that could use the equipment and take it as a donation,” Powell said.
“We sent things to other schools that could use it — we’ve tried to do that where we could.”
Powell and Director of Operations Matt Yunker both said that anything left was being scrapped and had no resale value.
“The things that you’re seeing piled up had no resale value and we actually made more money from it being scrapped than we would have trying to resell it,” Powell said.
He said he understands that some of the items look like they have value from a distance, but up-close they do not.
Yunker said the district has been diligent in reusing materials where it could and will actually save money on the demolition project by scrapping the items left from the buildings.
“I know the district has been very diligent in thinking through how this process would be carried out. Being mindful of items that we can use, being mindful of items that could be of value to other organizations or companies through sale and then also being mindful to our taxpayers that we were able to save almost half a million dollars by scrapping out the materials that were deemed to have little to no resale value.”
Powell said they have had residents approach the district wanted to take things like doors and other items out of the middle school or Wilcox. He said they have no way of monitoring if they allow people to come in and take things, and it could be a liability issue if something has lead or asbestos on it, so they have decided not to allow people to take things from the buildings.
That being said, a pallet of bricks from each building will be made available to community members. The bricks will be cleaned and their availability will be publicized.
“We’re trying to decide how we’re going to manage that — if we’re going to sell them to people or give them away,” he said.
Peggy Poe, a retired teacher from the district, said it’s heartbreaking to see the buildings torn down, but she understands the district saved what it could.
“It seems, from what I saw of the pile of desks, everything at the middle school was old and a lot of it was broken,” she said. “A lot of those seats were missing bolts that held the seat to the desk. The desks themselves were marked up and not in really good shape. I’m not saying somebody couldn’t have used them but I think the thinking was and since they have been separated out, maybe the metal parts would be recycled. Anything of value that belonged to the teachers, they either discarded or they took with them over to the new building — so what we’re seeing is heartbreaking, but the building has outlived its usefulness.”
Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.