Wednesday, Mar 21, 2018
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Toledo Public Schools proposes closing 2 schools, laying off 116

The Toledo elementary school that two of A.C. Mack s boys attend is slated for the chopping block in a plan by the district to close a $10 million deficit for the coming year.

Mr. Mack has a first grader and a child in Head Start at Nathan Hale Elementary and his oldest, now in eighth grade, is a product of the school.

Nathan Hale Elementary, 1701 Shenandoah Rd., and Fulton Elementary, 333 Melrose Ave., are slated to close when the school year ends under a proposal from Toledo Public Schools Superintendent John Foley to balance the budget.

I m pretty sure a majority of us say the same thing — this is ridiculous, he said. I don t understand it. I love the education my little ones and the older ones have gotten here.

The reduction plan also includes cutting 116 staff positions, including 88 teachers.

As you know, we ve been grappling with the costs and impact of loss of enrollment as well as the budget, the superintendent told the Toledo Board of Education during a special meeting Friday. I do want to go forward with these recommendations.

The school board will hold a public hear-ing at 6 p.m. Wednesday and plans to vote on the recommendations on May 15.

Libbey High School, which initially was on the chopping block, would remain open under Mr. Foley s proposal.

The board said if Libbey is to be spared, the district needs to commit to that and get the community behind the school.

At previous meetings, school board member Jack Ford said he did not want to close Libbey. After the meeting yesterday, Mr. Ford told The Blade he was glad it was not in the superintendent s final recommendation, although it was in an earlier edition.

I made a decision some time ago [that] I feel Libbey should stay open, he said. My sense is that it is not just the school, it is the neighborhood. Libbey serves as an anchor for that neighborhood.

Closing Nathan Hale and Fulton would save a combined $1 million through staff cuts and utility savings ($647,007 for Nathan Hale and $440,387 for Fulton.)

Those schools, part of Scott High School s learning community, are not used to capacity, Mr. Foley noted.

Nathan Hale has 217 students in a school built for 979 and Fulton has 213 students in a building with a 442-student capacity.

While many of those students would go to the new King Elementary School, under construction at 1300 Forrest Ave., parents said they d rather keep them at their current building.

King is set to open in the fall for the 2009-10 school year and can serve 350 students.

Elaine Jones, who was picking up her grandchildren at Nathan Hale, said she, her children, and now her grandchildren attended that school.

I think it s a wonderful school and they shouldn t close it, she said. This school has history and a lot to offer. I d rather it stay here.

Mr. Foley said Nathan Hale and Fulton are not in the district s master building plan and the changes are needed to save money and to provide some of the student population for the new King opening.

The superintendent s recommendations include closing the old Sherman Elementary School, which is currently open in addition to the new school because of overcapacity of students.

The new Spring Elementary School being constructed on Spring Street near Stickney Avenue will open in the fall and could absorb some of the extra students from Sherman.

This would allow the district to operate only the new school, Mr. Foley said.

Another proposed change is moving Lincoln Academy for Boys from North Detroit Avenue to the Washington building, a mile east on Palmwood Avenue.

The preschool program and offices at Washington would move to the former Libbey-Owens-Ford building on East Broadway.

That site is used for Raymer Elementary, which has a new school under construction, but will be available for the upcoming school year.

That change, Mr. Foley said, will move about 150 students at Lincoln to a larger building. The current building can hold 875 students.

Other building changes include closing the warehouse behind Leverette Middle School and moving its contents into the L-O-F building and closing the Mayfair Achievement and Ryder Achievement learning center buildings and moving those programs to the old Chase Elementary School at 3315 Mayo St.

Some staff reductions would result because of the building changes, but most are from district-wide personnel adjustments as a result of the loss of 1,600 students last school year. Those include 86 teachers, seven paraprofessionals, and three administrators.

Board members said they hope most of the positions are reduced through retirements instead of layoffs.

Some of the proposed cuts would affect academics.

The district will save $1.5 million by not issuing new textbooks this year.

During Friday s meeting, the board approved new language arts textbooks for grades 10, 11, 12, and senior composition.

That will be the last textbook purchase for at least a year; no requests were pending for the coming year, Mr. Foley said.

The administration also proposed reducing the small schools program at Libbey and Scott high schools from three to two small schools, which will save more than $100,000 at each with staff reductions.

Board member Darlene Fisher asked if administrators had considered making Scott a comprehensive high school, as the community suggested. Mr. Foley said they did, but that would raise costs instead of reducing them at this time.

It s tough, board President Steven Steel said of the cuts. A lot of this is adjustment to enrollment. In this community the last thing we need is more people on the unemployment rolls, but we need to balance our budget.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

or 419-724-6134.

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