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Published: Thursday, 5/20/2004

Oakdale school showcases its 9 decades

Black-and-white photos of students clad in frilly dresses and short ties shifted to color photos of smiling faces on a television screen yesterday, showing 82 years of Oakdale Elementary School history.

The video, which showed still pictures of staff and pupils through the years, was a keepsake, said Principal Cathy Johnson.

It was a history that members of the Toledo Public Schools' community oversight committee applauded with hopes that other schools will follow suit.

The school district is moving forward with the $821 million capital improvements program that eventually will include the replacement or remodeling of every school in the district. Oakdale is slated to be demolished this summer, and construction of a new school is slated to begin at 1620 East Broadway in September.

"It may be a very good thing that you started with a building like ours because we've got a community that won't let us forget our old building," Ms. Johnson said, sharing several pieces of memorabilia depicting Oakdale's current facade. "At the same time, we've tried to generate a lot of excitement for the new building."

Members of the committee expressed gratitude that students, parents, and teachers were working to preserve their building's history. Meanwhile, the district has had to overcome setbacks in the bidding for construction work for the program's first phase.

Price increases in steel and other materials were cited as the reason bids came in $1.1 million higher than expected last month for Ottawa River Elementary School.

Yesterday, project director Bill Ramsey, of the L.G.B. group, said the bids led construction officials to think about using alternate materials in the school buildings to lower the costs but not affect the design or function.

Namely, the design team has restructured the project bids that substitute some portions of steel with plank - precast lengths of concrete to be used in walls.

"Other ways of reducing costs is to look at different materials for mechanical systems. Again, that won't change the way it functions, but will bring the project down to budget," Mr. Ramsey said.

The $821 million program is being funded largely by the Ohio School Facilities Commission, with 25 percent from local property taxes. The committee is working on the second phase of a six-phase project.

On the video showing Oakdale as it evolved from 1922 to the present, school officials watched as it ended with a schematic picture of what the new Oakdale Elementary School will look like, a building that will be put out to bid on June 9.

"This is a great example of how to preserve history," said Jim White, Jr., the presiding co-chairman of the district's oversight committee.

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