Tricia Cowell peeks into a classroom during a tour of the new Beverly School. Birmingham, Riverside, Old Orchard, and Walbridge school buildings also are new.
New is the word this year at Toledo Public Schools as buildings around the district open Monday for the first day of the school year.
Brand-new buildings await students at five TPS schools — Beverly, Birmingham, Old Orchard, Riverside, and Walbridge.
Beyond just new materials and modern designs, the schools include advancements that should help in the classrooms, TPS Business Manager James Gant said.
“Technology is the biggest educational difference you will see,” he said.
Many classrooms in the new schools have SMARTboards and ceiling-mounted projector systems, and science labs were upgraded.
The buildings are more energy-efficient compared to their predecessors, and new technology should help the district save money through monitoring of the sites.
Mr. Gant can track air-conditioner usage from his district office, and eventually will be able to gauge the cost of keeping buildings open for specific events.
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The ultimate goal is to continue saving money by reducing energy usage.
Devon Sanders checks his Beverly classroom. Many students and teachers spent time in temporary spaces.
Not only will the buildings be new, but their formats have changed. Under the district’s transformational plan, elementary and middle schools were scrapped for K-8 schools, meaning elementary schools had to add middle school science labs, while former middle schools needed lower sinks, among other modifications.
The construction constitutes the beginning of the end of Toledo’s Building for Success program.
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Largely funded with state money, the decadelong program involves more than $600 million of renovations, rebuilding, and demolitions of buildings. The Ohio School Facilities Commission covers 77 percent under the program, with the remaining 23 percent coming from local funds.
New versions of Longfellow, McKinley, Pickett, and Marshall schools will open throughout the year, as will a renovated Scott High School. When those schools open, the construction and renovation phase of Building for Success will be over.
More than two dozen buildings must be demolished, and some of that work won’t start until next year.
At times, the program faced detractors, maybe most prominently because of the impending demolition of Libbey High School. Critics contended the program relied too heavily on demolition and construction over rehabilitation and preservation.
Old Orchard students and staff will be greeted with a new building as the decade-long building phase will come to a close this school year.
He wouldn’t take sides on the aesthetic argument.
“I look at it from the perspective of what is the best way to educate our kids, and this program creates the best opportunities,” Mr. Gant said.
“I do think that’s a viable dispute you can have.”
Not every school that’s been closed will be demolished. Some, such as Crossgates and Westfield, have found new uses as a preschool and a home for the former Fulton Academy, respectively.
The district is in negotiations with a community group to turn the former Nathan Hale building into a community center.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6086.
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