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Published: Wednesday, 8/19/2009

Scott alumni, community vent anger over auction

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

An embarrassed Toledo Board of Education apologized last night for the lack of communication about this week s auction at Scott High School.

It seems even board members didn t know the auction of surplus items was to take place Monday.

A half-dozen community members, most of them involved alumni of the high school who worked to get it renovated, took the board and Toledo Public Schools administration to task for not involving them in the preservation of historic items before the public sale.

Principal Treva Jeffries and Superintendent John Foley said the historic items were saved before the auction and what was sold Monday was surplus not needed for the transition years in De-Vilbiss or in the new Scott set to open in 2012.

Avie Dixon, a 1964 Scott graduate, said it felt like an arrogant and disrespectful monster spat in her face because she had been working for months to re-establish a trust between TPS and the Scott community.

All we want is a top-quality education for the students in our community, she said.

Ms. Dixon and several others, including education activist Steven Flagg, who rarely addresses the board during the public comment portion of meetings, called for a committee to oversee the renovation of the historic high school in the city s Old West End.

Mr. Flagg said the district has been making excuses for not involving the community and is not doing a good job building trust. He called the board members deaf, dumb, and blind.

I will continue to pester you until you do the right thing, he said.

School board President Bob Vasquez reordered the meeting agenda to address the Scott issue before other board business.

Board members Jack Ford and Darlene Fisher were the most outspoken about how the auction occurred, with Mr. Ford saying it was stupidity.

Gross lack of sensitivity was used here, particularly in light of everything we ve been dealing with around the Scott issue, he said, adding that what might be interesting to a bargain hunter could be very sentimental to a Scott Bulldog.

Mr. Ford said that despite his being a board member, he read about the auction in the newspaper instead of being notified earlier.

Ms. Fisher said the community wants to support TPS, but it s difficult to do that when the district doesn t connect with them.

We have no other option than to issue an apology, she said.

It was unclear when the district contacted the auctioneer to have the sale and the process to inform people it was going on. All board members said they were not properly notified, and Mr. Foley apologized for that.

There was never intent to have a secret sale. Certainly it was a public sale, he said.

The auction was held to finish clearing out the high school so work can continue as scheduled, he said.

Scott is undergoing a $39 million renovation for the building that opened in 1913 and is named for Jesup W. Scott, a former Blade editor.

The board members concluded the discussion on the issue by agreeing they need to work to make sure something like this doesn t happen again and to be ready with a resolution next month to set up an oversight committee for Scott s renovation.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:mgilbert@theblade.comor 419-724-6134.



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