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Published: Wednesday, 11/20/2002

Maumee schools get public input on buildings

Maumee school officials last night began the delicate task of asking residents which school buildings should be renovated or replaced and explaining how much they would have to pay for such a project.

With the district's only high school recommended for renovation, there were no loud protests of the kind that punctuated this year's forums at Toledo Public Schools to reach agreement on a plan to modernize its schools.

But school officials still face nettlesome issues. There was little agreement over whether to renovate or abandon Union Elementary School. Paying for the whole project would be expensive.

About 200 parents and teachers were assigned to classrooms at Gateway Middle School to give their views in small groups.

In one classroom, Denny DuBell urged Union Elementary not be discarded. Architects have suggested it be razed. Its pupils would be assigned to the district's three other elementary buildings, putting more pupils in those buildings and possibly increasing the student-teacher ratio, he said.

“My personal feeling is, I would like to see them keep the building because they keep tearing things down,” he said. Certainly, architects can retrofit Union's classrooms for computers and other technology, he said.

Union is the oldest elementary building of its kind in Ohio still operating as a school. It observed its 125th anniversary in 1995.

But a woman countered that Union's original roof is gone, replaced with a flat one. There have been other modifications, there is little playground space compared to other elementaries, and not much room to park, she said.

“Historically, it doesn't mean a lot to me,” Lindy Eubank, a teacher and parent of four children who attended Maumee schools, said. “It doesn't really look like a historic building. They changed it.”

Other proposals in Maumee's plan to upgrade school facilities put the price tag for construction and renovation at up to $50 million. It would include tearing down and replacing Fort Miami Elementary and Gateway Middle School, and improvements to other buildings.

In response to a question, district Treasurer Paul Brotzki said once the school board approves a facilities plan, it may weigh placing both a bond issue and an operating levy of about equal size on the May ballot.

That's to avoid leading voters to believe a bond issue alone is the district's only pressing need, he said. The district's last increase of 4.9 mills was approved by voters in 1996.

Superintendent Greg Smith said a bond issue alone of 5.99 mills would raise $50 million for construction and renovation and would cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $183 a year more in taxes. Less costly construction options might cost only $35 million, he said.

A second forum is set for 7 p.m. Monday at Gateway.



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