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Toledo Public Schools’ headquarters appears set to move to North Summit Street.
The Toledo Board of Education meets at 5:30 p.m. today in a special session at the Kent Branch Library, 3101 Collingwood Ave., to discuss the potential purchase of the YMCA/JCC of Greater Toledo office and fitness center on Summit, and likely will vote on the proposed deal.
While district officials have previously expressed interest in running a Head Start program out of the building, they now have bigger plans.
TPS leaders acknowledged late last week that they also plan to move district headquarters from the Thurgood Marshall building on Manhattan Boulevard to the YMCA building, pending school board approval. Administrators and board members have considered a move of its central administration offices for months.
If board members approve the purchase and move, TPS would use the building as both an administrative center and for the early-childhood programming, said James Gant, TPS business manager.
The early-childhood center is contingent on TPS winning Toledo’s Head Start grant funding. TPS Superintendent Romules Durant said administrators sharing space with a comprehensive early-childhood center was important, because the district has committed to boosting services to children before they reach school age.
Mr. Durant is a vocal advocate for more emphasis on early-childhood education. The site would be a base for services provided for children from infancy through age 3, and as a Head Start preschool site. The district also plans an extensive data tracking program to compare the effectiveness of different strategies, such as full-day or half-day programs.
Mr. Durant and other district officials would walk by the program’s space every day on the way to their offices.
“It’s ideal for me to be in the presence of what I believe,” he said.
The YMCA plans to maintain its office space under the proposed deal, and its fitness center would remain there for the near future until a proposed new center tied to ProMedica’s downtown headquarters’ relocation is completed, said Brad Toft, the Y’s president and chief executive officer.
The YMCA board has approved the letter of intent to sell the building to TPS, leaving only school-board approval as the last step in the sale.
The potential deal between TPS and the YMCA nixes a previous agreement with Horizon Science Academy to purchase the property. The charter school was set to buy the building for $830,000, and a tie-breaker vote last week by Mayor D. Michael Collins approved a special-use permit for the proposed school.
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Mustafa Arslan, superintendent for Horizon in Toledo, said the charter school would respect the new deal and step aside.
The purchase agreement between TPS and the YMCA is a mix of cash and in-kind contributions. TPS would pay about $400,000 in cash, forgive rent for a YMCA run daycare center at DeVeaux Elementary and a proposed daycare center at Byrnedale Elementary, and let the YMCA offices stay in the building rent free for four years, among other elements of the agreement.
The deal’s total estimated value is about $777,000, combining the cash and in-kind contributions.
TPS had set aside $600,000 to either renovate the Thurgood Marshall building or move its headquarters elsewhere, meaning the district would save about $200,000 from its budgeted expense, board member Lisa Sobecki said.
The school district already owns the other half of the North Summit complex, though it’s currently unused. Previously, TPS held staff training sessions and some adult education programs at the site.
The Thurgood Marshall building is about 80,000 square feet, with between 40,000 and 50,000 square feet actually used, Mr. Gant said.
“At one point at Manhattan and Elm, you couldn’t find a parking spot,” Ms. Sobecki said. “Now, you can find a front-row spot.”
The new district offices would use between 30,000 and 40,000 square feet of the North Summit building’s roughly 80,000 square feet, with the rest of the space going to YMCA operations and the district’s childcare operations.
Built in 1921, the Thurgood Marshall building is not just too large, it needs significant upgrades, including replacement of a failed air-conditioning system for which the district now substitutes an expensive rental unit during summer months.
Both Mr. Gant and Ms. Sobecki said moving headquarters to the Summit Street building would cut maintenance costs, freeing up scarce capital funds. It would also strengthen a partnership with the YMCA.