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Published: Friday, 10/12/2007

Senior alumni argue Scott is worth saving; class of 41 campaigns to preserve building

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Thelma Wexler, left, Caroline Lumm, and Kandace Kendall are among members of the Scott High School class of 1941 who are trying to save the 94-year-old school from being replaced. Officials have said renovation costs would be $37 million. 
Thelma Wexler, left, Caroline Lumm, and Kandace Kendall are among members of the Scott High School class of 1941 who are trying to save the 94-year-old school from being replaced. Officials have said renovation costs would be $37 million.
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Though they last strolled the storied halls of their alma mater more than 65 years ago, about 20 members of the Scott High School Class of 1941 have a message for those who would rather replace the venerable Collingwood Boulevard landmark. Just because something is old, they say, doesn t mean it should be tossed aside.

At their 66th class reunion last month, members of the class created and signed a petition to the Toledo Board of Education, arguing the high school building is our treasure and should be renovated, not replaced.

A copy of the petition was sent to The Blade.

We had a little reunion and we all decided that we like Scott and we liked it kept the way it is, explained 84-year-old Thelma Wexler, who drew up the petition.

The fate of Scott High School has generated intense debate since Toledo Public Schools began its multiphase, multimillion-dollar renovation program six years ago. The state is funding 77 percent of the cost of building new schools in the district, while local voters approved a measure in 2001 to pay the other 23 percent.

Under a districtwide plan the Toledo Board of Education adopted in 2002, Scott was one of seven buildings slated for renovation instead of replacement or outright closing.

But more recently, district officials have determined that renovating the 94-year-old building would cost $37 million, exceeding by $7 million the cost of replacing it, prompting a second look at its status. State funding guidelines make ineligible any renovation cost that exceeds replacement cost, so the difference would have to be funded locally.

The district is working to put together public forums on Scott High s future. Forum dates haven t been scheduled, and no decision on the building s fate has been made, district spokesman Patty Mazur said.

Alumni groups have been active in almost all school replacement decisions, but the petition from the Scott Class of 1941 stood out for TPS officials as unusual.

I just hate to see a building like that torn down, said 84-year-old Wayne Miller, who lives in Point Place. It s a shame that we tear everything down and build these new box buildings that don t have any architecture to them, any history to them.

Mr. Miller said his three years at Scott left him with indelible memories of his alma mater and an appreciation of the building s history and place in the community.

It s a good old building. It s a nice building. It looks good. I don t see why they can t keep people going there. But that s the way the world goes nowadays, Mr. Miller said. Anything that gets worn out, they throw it away. That s not how it used to be. We used to repair things when they broke or got worn out.

While earlier decisions about whether to renovate or replace other individual buildings in the district caused some controversy, those debates seem to pale in comparison to the passions generated by the district s deliberations over Scott s future.

When the class of 1941 graduated, enrollment at Scott was about double what it is today, district officials said.

But even though Scott may be too big for its current population, its architectural heritage should be considered too, some of its oldest graduates argue.

It s a beautiful school. I don t think they could replace it; I don t care how much money they give them, said Charlotte Lottie Sussman, who lives in West Toledo.

Though most of the graduates from 1941 haven t walked Scott s halls in decades, their memories of their former stomping ground remain as vivid as ever.

I really do think that they should renovate it if they can, Beverly Fisher said.

It s not anything that s life or death with us. We re 85 years old. We d just like to keep it just because we think it s a lovely building.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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