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Published: Thursday, 7/3/2008

State wants Scott plan by July 31

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Wayne Colman discusses options for Scott High School during a meeting with Toledo school board members. Mr. Colman is planning manager for the Ohio School Facilities Commission, the state agency that provides funds for rebuilding local schools. Wayne Colman discusses options for Scott High School during a meeting with Toledo school board members. Mr. Colman is planning manager for the Ohio School Facilities Commission, the state agency that provides funds for rebuilding local schools.
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Despite a looming deadline to finalize the last phase of the Toledo Public Schools' building plan, the fate of Scott High School remains up in the air.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission, which provides 77 percent of the funding for the project, initially had set a June 30 deadline for the final segment plans, which include Scott and 10 other schools.

The state facilities commission wants a decision yet this month.

A meeting yesterday of the district's school facilities committee didn't lead to exact answers on how to pay for a Scott renovation, but it appears there's a chance the high school can remain in the building plan.

"I walk away from here thinking that we have more options," Lisa Sobecki said. "Having a waiver could really change the dynamics for another year."

School board members Lisa Sobecki, left, and Darlene Fisher discuss options for Scott High School with Ron Victor, business manager for the city s schools.  I walk away from here thinking that we have more options,  Ms. Sobecki said.
School board members Lisa Sobecki, left, and Darlene Fisher discuss options for Scott High School with Ron Victor, business manager for the city s schools. I walk away from here thinking that we have more options, Ms. Sobecki said.
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Ms. Sobecki and Darlene Fisher, the school board members on the committee, asked to petition for waivers that could give the district more time and flexibility while not jeopardizing the project. The problem is that pushing back the clock could mean losing money, said Wayne Colman, planning manager at the state facilities commmission.

The agency's funding formula is based on projected student enrollments.

If the district accelerates the last segment to be built in the 2011-2012 school year, projections call for a district enrollment of 24,237 students at that time.

If it goes forward as planned for the 2012-2013 school year, enrollment is predicted to drop to 23,628 students.

That difference of 609 students could mean losing funding for an additional school or school and a half.

The amount the state is willing to pay for Scott High s renovation falls short of the amount needed by about $12 million.
The amount the state is willing to pay for Scott High s renovation falls short of the amount needed by about $12 million.
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But the district and school board need more time to find a way to pay for a Scott renovation that could cost $40 million, while only receiving about $28 million from the OSFC.

The difference would have to be paid with local dollars, and TPS leaders say the district doesn't have the money.

But if granted a waiver for more time, an aggressive fund-raising campaign could be started, and leaders could hunt for building preservation grants or explore partnerships with businesses and community organizations for use of part of the building, Ms. Fisher said.

The size of the historic building on Collingwood Boulevard is the reason renovation is such a costly option. Built to house 2,000 students, the 1912 structure is 45,000 square feet too large for current or future student use for an enrollment in the 900s.

Mr. Colman told the board that taking away parts of the building would reduce the size, but because of how the main building and additions are constructed, it's not really a feasible option.

An idea briefly brought up by Mr. Colman could give the district up to a year to raise money for its share of the renovation.

It might be an option to approve a project agreement that includes plans for a new high school in the final segment, but leaves the option for an amendment. If the local funds are raised in time, they'd amend the agreement to scrap the new high school and put the money toward renovating Scott, Mr. Colman said.

Scott supporters who attended the meeting asked the district and state to seize this as an opportunity to do something creative with a historic community anchor and draw students back to the central city.

Others criticized the administration and school board for pushing the decisions regarding Scott down to the wire when, as the district's oldest school building, they said it should have been on the top of the list and not the last part of the building plan.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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