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Published: 6/24/2008

Toledo Public Schools floats new plan to revamp Scott High

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The community wants to see
Scott High School renovated, not torn down. The building opened in 1912 for about 2,000 students, but currently has on 925 enrolled in the structure on Collingwood
Boulevard. The community wants to see Scott High School renovated, not torn down. The building opened in 1912 for about 2,000 students, but currently has on 925 enrolled in the structure on Collingwood Boulevard.
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It's clear the community wants to see the historic Scott High School renovated rather than knocked down and replaced.

Not so clear is how to go about that.

A new option on the table would mean taking Scott out of the district's Building for Success program, for which the state of Ohio pays the bulk of the cost.

Toledo Public Schools leaders say by opting out they could renovate by their own desires and time line.

The head of the school's alumni association says it's a ploy for the district to do nothing with the historic structure.

The total renovation that the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which provides 77 percent of the funding for the building project, would cost an estimated $39 million.

At the same time, the Ohio program is only putting up $25 million for Scott, based on projected enrollment for the school and other factors.

And the district would have to first come up with the $14 million in local dollars in order to get that $25 million, district business manager Ron Victor explained.

"This is a way we could continue the Building for Success program and at the same time gives you the opportunity to renovate Scott High School," he said of the new proposal.

The current building on Collingwood Boulevard, which opened in 1912, has capacity for about 2,000 students, while only about 925 are currently enrolled. That dwindling enrollment is affecting the school's financing.

TPS could tear it down and build a new, smaller Scott with that $25 million from the state, but because the public has stated a clear preference for renovation over replacement - most recently in a series of forums held last month - the district is exploring options such as this one, Mr. Victor said.

But renovation outside the state program is not a promise renovation advocates feel confident the district will keep.

"They want to do little or nothing at Scott and have spent three years creating confusion," Ben Williams, a former basketball coach at Scott, said.

Mr. Victor said the state program would like the district to make a decision on Scott by next month to keep the building program on schedule.

If that deadline could be pushed back and more negotiations were to take place with the state program regarding the projected enrollment for the school, it would be possible to raise the necessary funds for a complete renovation, Robert Davis, president of Scott's alumni association, said.

He said the community does not want to give away $25 million from the OSFC.

If the district can't come up with $14 million to get the state money, Mr. Davis asked, how will it come up with enough money for a true renovation?

"We don't want to just paint the walls and spruce up here and there," Mr. Davis said. "We don't know what the 'We'll renovate it later' means."

Mr. Victor said the renovation's scope would be more flexible if it was supported by local dollars.

Scott has a fairly new boiler and roof, which would be replaced under the comprehensive state building plan but really don't need to be, Mr. Victor said.

As a district-run renovation, a committee would be formed to take a look at the school and see where renovation dollars would be put to best use, he said.

If Scott were to be taken out of the building program, the district could use the $25 million to construct two smaller high schools.

They wouldn't be replacements for Scott, Mr. Victor stressed, but other options for community-based schools in the district.

There will be more discussions amongst administrators, school board members, and the community before any decision is made regarding Scott's future, Mr. Victor said.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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