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Published: Sunday, 7/27/2008

A plan to save Scott

SCOTT High School, the grand dame of Toledo Public Schools, should be in line for a face-lift if a proposal put together by district officials is smiled upon by the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

School board members Darlene Fisher and Lisa Sobecki, working with Superintendent John Foley, TPS Treasurer Dan Romano, and district business manager Ron Victor, have gone the extra mile to save Scott from the wrecking ball while not breaking the district's bank account or placing a new burden on taxpayers.

The problem has been that a full renovation of Toledo's oldest public high school, required under OSFC regulations, would cost $40 million, but the state was only willing to provide $28 million, which would have left the district - and local taxpayers - on the hook for the other $12 million.

Under the proposal put together by TPS and board officials, Scott would be reassessed by the state with the goal of reducing the local share as much as possible, perhaps to as little as $3 million.

The state's $28 million share would be secured by including two replacement schools in the proposal, but no action would be taken to design or build those schools unless the Scott renovation plan were to fail.

Since the OSFC has been involved in formulating the proposal, there is every reason to believe that the commission will be disposed to work with the district to make renovation of Scott a reality.

The final piece of the puzzle - providing the board approves the proposal and the reassessment results in a significantly reduced local share - will come in November, when voters would be asked to reauthorize the bond issue they approved in 2002 but which was not collected fully because the scope of the school building program was reduced.

Fully collected, the bond issue would raise an additional $37 million, which could then be used for renovation projects across the district, including Waite High School, the former DeVilbiss High School, and Harvard, Crossgates, and Glendale-Feilbach elementaries, as well as Scott.

Success for this proposal is not yet written in bricks and mortar. It will be considered by the school board's OSFC committee on Monday (a formality since Ms. Fisher and Ms. Sobecki are the committee) and, more importantly, voted on by the full board on Tuesday.

The OSFC also has to sign off on the idea, and Michael Shoemaker, the state body's executive director, has pledged to give TPS every break possible to make the renovation plan happen.

School officials and board members deserve a pat on the back for listening to the Scott community and putting together a plan to save one of the most magnificent buildings of its kind in the state, if not the country.

Jesup W. Scott, the 19th-century Blade editor for whom Scott High School is named, saw Toledo as a city that would one day achieve international status. As a city aspiring to that level of prominence, it is fitting that Toledo remember and honor its past by preserving architectural gems such as Scott.

This proposal is but the first step toward that end.



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