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Published: Sunday, 4/10/2005

Schools-neighborhood coalition wants TPS data on renovations

As Toledo Public Schools officials continue to govern the district's $821 million program to rebuild or renovate all of its school buildings, a coalition of local government, nonprofit, and business groups wants to be sure it's kept in the loop.

The New Schools New Neighborhoods Coalition, which was formed last year to piggyback on the pride neighborhoods draw from new school buildings, met Friday and offered updates on planned housing development projects and hopes for revitalization centered around three schools: Chase and Sherman elementary schools and Stewart Academy for Girls.

"We believe the school district needs to be a collaborative partner," said Hugh Grefe, senior program director of Toledo's Local Initiatives Support Corp., a nonprofit group and coalition member. "We are not complaining about anything. We are just saying they need to have a stronger sense of communication and openness."

Toledo Mayor Jack Ford briefly addressed the group of about 60 people who met at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

"We are excited about the new renaissance you are going to lead on," Mayor Ford said.

Three community development agencies plan to build homes and demolish blighted buildings near the new school buildings. NorthRiver Development Corp. wants to develop 35 homes near the proposed site for Chase Elementary, near the intersection of Bassett and Ontario streets. Lagrange Development Corp. wants to develop four homes near Sherman, and Organized Neighbors Yielding eXcellence Inc. plans to build 11 near Stewart.

Toledo Board of Education President Larry Sykes said the school district wants to have a close partnership with the community and other government agencies.

The school construction program is funded through a blend of state and local money. Ohio School Facilities Commission pays 77 percent of the total project costs. The remaining 23 percent is funded by a 4.99-mill, 28-year levy Toledo voters approved in 2002. The program is phased over 10 to 12 years but will have activity in every quadrant of the city.


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