Wednesday, July 17, 2019 Elyria 76°


Elyria board favors least-expensive building plan

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ELYRIA — Of the three options presented during a public meeting last month, Elyria school district officials have supported the least-expensive option, which also will alter the grouping of students.

On Wednesday night, board member Greg Elek said the Master Plan Committee prefers an option that builds four new elementary schools for kindergarten through fourth grade for $12.9 million each, one kindergarten-through-eighth grade campus-style building at the former Elyria West High School site for $32.8 million, and two new middle schools for fifth through eighth grades that would cost $15 million to $17 million each.

This option would see local funds covering $44 million of the $126 million project.

Other building options would cost taxpayers more, require more student transportation and see the district build more schools

Board members are moving quickly to update the district’s master plan for when funding becomes available from the state to pay for construction costs. The breakdown would have the state paying 67 percent of total project costs and local taxpayers funding the remaining 33 percent through a bond issue that has yet to be put before voters.

Board members said they believe the plan would be the most beneficial for several reasons.

The district already has all of the land needed, and in all cases would be able to construct schools on land adjacent to existing buildings. This would eliminate the need to shuffle students to other schools during construction. Also how the students would be clustered would allow teachers to better team-teach relevant curriculum over several grades.

The plan also moves the school district’s offices, currently housed at the former Elyria West on Griswold Road, to another existing school repurposed for administrative needs. Right now, the plan is to use Northwood Middle School on Gulf Road.

The option also leaves open the potential for a district athletic complex for another $8 million to $10 million in local funding.

Elek said the Master Plan Committee has decided to appoint an Athletic Complex Subcommittee that will have until the end of February to assess the needs of a new athletic complex and make recommendations to the Master Plan Committee.

The board is required to approve and submit to the Ohio Facilities Commission a full district master plan by March.

Superintendent Tom Jama, who has been holding community sessions twice a month, said the board meetings and his more informal discussions offer opportunities for public engagement over the next two months. He would like residents who have an opinion about the master plan to attend a meeting or session, if feasible.

In other news

Wednesday’s meeting was the first meeting of the new year and for the district’s new governing body.

Board member Mike Gebhardt was sworn in as board president. Elek is the new board vice-president. Board members Annie Croft, Jim Backs and Kevin Brubaker also took the oath of office from Elyria Municipal Court Judge Gary Bennett, who is also a former Elyria Schools board member.

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