Sorting Libbey items delayed

TPS official was to meet with school preservationists Saturday

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    In 2010, the TPS board of education proposed closing Libbey High School as a way to help ease its budget problems.

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  • Libbey High School was knocked down months ago, but angst over the school and what's left of its memorabilia remain.

    Preservationists and Libbey graduates tried for months to save the shuttered school to no avail, as the walls crumbled in January. Alumni then turned toward preserving mementos such as trophies and photographs that had been saved and stored by Toledo Public Schools.

    Alumni and TPS representative Gayle Schaber - an administrator and former Libbey principal - met for months deciding where the items would ultimately go, and were set to jointly document the memorabilia Saturday. Some of the items, such as trophies, will go to the alumni who were awarded them. Others will be sent to museums. And the district plans to display some of them within the district.

    The items are TPS property, but the district was allowing alumni to help find homes for some of the material, and make historical records for others.

    But TPS abruptly called off the session last week, to the dismay of Libbey graduates.

    "We are being screwed again, is how we see it," Libbey preservation committee member Sue Terrill said.

    The school, which opened in 1923, was closed in 2010 after years of declining enrollment. Plans to find a buyer to renovate the structure were unsuccessful. The building cost money to maintain even while empty, and TPS risked losing state funding for much of the demolition project if work had been delayed further. The demolition rankled some alumni who felt abandoned by the district.

    TPS officials say that they still plan to allow alumni to sift through the items, but the district needs more TPS staff on hand during the process. Business manager James Gant said that only one TPS employee was going to accompany alumni on Saturday, and that was too few for the amount of material stored at the former former Libbey-Owens-Ford Technical Center in East Toledo.

    Mr. Gant said the district is still committed to working with alumni, and didn't want to appear to be stalling. He said he hoped a new date to document the material will be set within the next month.

    "I understand their frustrations," he said. "We are more than willing to work with them, we just need to have more personnel."

    But the abrupt change of plans by TPS perplexed alumni, who have worked for months on the memorabilia, and said that TPS could have determined it needed more personnel well in advance.

    "We've been meeting with them on almost a monthly basis," Libbey graduate Larry Farren said. "Up until our last meeting, we were under the impression that everything was going well."

    Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at:

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