The Toledo Board of Education is considering moving its offices from the Thurgood Marshall Building to the former DeVilbiss High, which houses the Toledo Technology Academy.
THE BLADE/LORI KING
Central office administrators for Toledo Public Schools may soon have reason to stop sweating.
District leaders plan to ask the Toledo Board of Education this month for permission to do a feasibility study about a potential move from the headquarters at the Thurgood Marshall building on Manhattan Boulevard to the former DeVilbiss High School on Upton Avenue.
Built in 1921, the former elementary school is too large for staff levels and needs significant upgrades.
A failed air conditioning system requires the district to use a rental unit that leaves many parts of the building uncomfortably hot during summer months.
Discussions about moving from Thurgood Marshall have gone on for years. Now, if the study shows it's feasible and the board gives its blessing, central administration functions could finally move.
District staff also reviewed the Summit Street Annex building as a possible new headquarters, but business manager James Gant said it would cost too much to repair the site and remodel the interior as an office building.
“We've concluded [DeVilbiss] might be a better recommendation,” Mr. Gant said.
The DeVilbiss building houses the Toledo Technology Academy, the district's technology-based magnet high school. Enrollment at the high-scoring school has grown modestly over the years, but at about 175 students still doesn't fill out the building.
The district also operates a preschool program there and several small departmental offices.
Mr. Gant estimated it would cost about $500,000 to do renovations for the Thurgood Marshall building.
The feasibility should show how much it would cost to remodel DeVilbiss, but the move would would allow TPS to close the Thurgood Marshall building and consolidate staff, saving money.
A performance audit of TPS completed earlier this year named Scott High School as the school with the most space. The audit said the school was only at 24 percent capacity.
Sharing space at Scott for classes and district administrators was floated in the past, but is not currently under consideration.
The DeVilbiss building served as a temporary home for Scott students while the Collingwood Boulevard school was under renovation. Scott reopened last year, leaving only the technology academy at the Upton campus.
Administrators had hoped to develop a K-12 campus devoted to a science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine curriculum, building off the success of Toledo Technology Academy and the district's other high-scoring magnet school, the Toledo Early College High School. That may have meant adding a K-8 feeder school at the DeVilbiss campus.
But that idea hinged on the district winning a large federal grant for start-up costs. The district made it through early stages of the grant competition, but the federal government ultimately awarded fewer grants than were initially announced, TPS chief academic officer Jim Gault said. TPS did not make the final cut.
For now, the district is considering the addition of seventh and eighth grades to Toledo Technology Academy, Mr. Gault said, while the district looks for other funding sources for the larger project.
Mr. Gant said the feasibility study should take 30 days to complete once the board approves it. A final recommendation to the board about a possible move to DeVilbiss could come this fall.