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Published: Tuesday, 12/15/2009

Board to vote on Longfellow site Tuesday


The final step in a controversial land swap between the city and its public schools system will take place Tuesday when the Toledo Board of Education meets to vote on a site for the new Longfellow Elementary.

Toledo City Council last week approved the land swap that would allow construction of the new Longfellow in Bowman Park. In exchange, the city would get the property of the existing school at 4112 Jackman Rd.

The school board's building program oversight committee met Monday and decided to forward a resolution on the swap to the full board, which meets at 5:30 p.m. at the district administration building, 420 East Manhattan Blvd.

The deal has the city transferring 4.6 acres in the northwest corner of Bowman Park for a new Longfellow, which would be in a campus-like setting with Start High and the West Toledo YMCA.

"I think it'd be tremendous to have kids be tied to YMCA programs. We've been talking about those possibilities for afterschool programming," TPS Superintendent John Foley said. "And it's going to give the Longfellow site more green space than any configuration at the current site."

Opponents of the plan say moving Longfellow out of its current neighborhood would negatively affect the area and that it moves the school out of walking distance for a number of students.

Those favoring the land swap cite the opportunities of the new campus setting and say the new location is safer than the heavy-traffic area of Jackman Road.

The goal is to have a new Longfellow built by the end of the district's building campaign in 2011, Mr. Foley said.

If the swap is not approved by the school board, the back-up plan is to tear down the existing school and build a new one there. Students would attend class in the former Nathan Hale Elementary School while the new Longfellow is being constructed.

This is not the first land-swap agreement between the city and TPS, Mr. Foley said.

He suggests the attention over this is tied to the new school being farther away than other land swaps in the past.

The deal also includes the school district transferring to the city a parcel of land on Glendale Avenue near Schneider Field and the former Ryder Elementary School building.

In addition to the Bowman Park location, the district would get from the city a 2-acre parcel near the former DeVilbiss High School and a parcel of land along Laskey Avenue near the Miracle Mile complex.

Contact Meghan Gilbert-Cunningham

at: mcunningham@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.

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