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Published: Thursday, 4/13/2006

Charter school plan advances to City Council

An application to build a new charter school in southwest Toledo advanced yesterday to Toledo City Council, despite complaints from Toledo Public Schools that the building won't be as durable as its new buildings.

Stephen Herwat, director of the Toledo Plan Commission, confirmed that schools being built under the state's $10 billion school construction program have to meet higher standards than the city's design code to get state money.

The Toledo Academy of Learning has applied for a special-use permit for a new school campus at 101 North Byrne Rd., north of Hill Avenue.

Council's zoning and planning committee forwarded the application to the full council without recommendation for a vote April 25.

The school, currently leasing space in a former industrial building at 301 Collingwood Blvd., expects to spend about $5 million on the first phase of the project, which includes a 31,723-square-foot building and sports fields, attorney Paul Sieben said.

A second phase would double the building's size.

Mr. Sieben denied the school would be built to lower standards than TPS buildings. But he offered on the spot to increase the amount of brick in the facade from 60 percent to 100 percent, an offer council immediately accepted.

Dan Burns, business manager for Toledo Public Schools, said the neighborhood already has enough schools. He said his district's new Keyser Elementary School being built nearby for a similar number of students will cost about twice as much, or $10 million.

He said he was aware of two recently built charter schools in Toledo that have wood framing, whereas TPS schools have block behind the exterior veneer, and thicker interior partitions.

Mr. Sieben said the charter school would not have wood framing, but did not say what kind of construction would be used.

The school had planned to use a synthetic stucco-style material, called EIFS, for the exterior facade.

"The EIFS material is not allowed to be used in public schools because of durability," Mr. Herwat said. "It is allowed under the design code, but the state will not fund it."

Mr. Sieben noted that charter schools, officially known as community schools, are not eligible for capital improvement funds from the state or local taxpayers.

He said the school would take out a conventional mortgage and repay it from operating revenue, grants, and donations.

This is the Toledo Academy of Learning's second effort to establish a new campus. An application to build a school on an industrial property at 671 Spencer St. failed to pass City Council last year.

Also at yesterday's meeting, the zoning and planning committee approved special-use permits for five new Toledo Public Schools elementary schools:

●Spring, 730 Spring St.

●Sherman, 817 Sherman St.

●Raymer, 1419 Nevada St.

●Elmhurst, 4530 Elmhurst Rd.

●Chase, 600 Bassett St.

The school district is replacing or renovating all its schools at a cost of $821 million, with local taxpayers funding 23 percent and the state funding 77 percent.



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