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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 4/8/2014 - Updated: 6 months ago

Collins to OK zoning of YMCA for charter school

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins intends to break a 6-6 tie today in favor of allowing Horizon Science Academy charter school to convert the YMCA of Greater Toledo in North Toledo into a school, he said Monday.

But Toledo Public Schools remains in discussions with the YMCA for the same property.

Mr. Collins said he made his decision to approve the zoning permit based on the advice of his law director, Adam Loukx.

“It’s not an issue as to whether this is a charter school or not. The foundation of the decision is based on the end use, not the end user,” Mr. Collins said.

Council handed the mayor his first tie-vote decision March 25 when it split evenly on whether to grant the permit.

The YMCA is under contract to sell the building, which houses offices and a fitness center, to a school management company that runs Horizon Science Academy. The charter school wants to relocate the K-8 school in the downtown Secor Building to the YMCA location.

Toledo Public Schools hopes to use the property for a “community hub” that would include a Head Start school.

Toledo Public Schools and ONE Village Council urged council to defer action on Horizon Science Academy’s application until the school district learns the fate of its $13 million Head Start grant proposal. The grant to operate the local Head Start program submitted by TPS includes plans for a birth-to-second-grade center with medical and health services and Head Start school.

Mr. Loukx, in his advice to the mayor, said that, “there is reason to believe that opposition is based on a prejudice of charter schools rather than legal criteria.”

“It is likely that a denial would result in suit,” Mr. Loukx counseled.

Council has been warned frequently in the past that its zoning decisions must be based on land-use legalities, not on whether council members approve of the user’s plans.

Terry Glazer, chief executive director of United North community development corporation in the ONE Village area of North Toledo, said the Toledo Public Schools’ plan is superior because it would involve programming from infancy through second grade.

“This whole deal is a much better concept for the neighborhood than another charter school,” Mr. Glazer said. “We’ve been working with a whole bunch of groups to make that happen.”

Brad Toft, the president and CEO of the YMCA, said that his board has approved a letter of intent to present to the school board.

“It’s still up in the air,” he said. The Y has a purchase agreement with Horizon for $830,000. He said the Y wants to reach a resolution on the real estate issue by the end of April.

“If we can reach an agreement with TPS we would try to sell it to them, with Horizon basically stepping away and the Y would have to pay them for costs incurred up until this point,” Mr. Toft said.

Jim Gant, TPS business manager, said the superintendent may make a recommendation to the board at its next meeting, April 14, but declined to release any details.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.



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