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Published: Saturday, 9/6/2008

Scott advocates are optimistic

Save Our Scott leader Jeff Nelson displays a collection of petitions with signatures of those who favor renovating the historic public high school in the Old West End. Save Our Scott leader Jeff Nelson displays a collection of petitions with signatures of those who favor renovating the historic public high school in the Old West End.
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Advocates for renovating and preserving Scott High School yesterday reiterated their commitment to seeing Toledo s oldest public high school saved for future generations of students.

The Toledo Board of Education has until Nov. 7 to decide if it will renovate the building.

Members of Save Our Scott hosted a news conference with community members, alumni, elected officials, and a preservation advocate on the school s front lawn at 2400 Collingwood Blvd.

The group was optimistic about a forthcoming study by a Westlake, Ohio-based firm that will assess the school s renovation needs. The cost of renovating the high school previously was estimated at $40 million. The study is expected within a few weeks, Toledo Public Schools Superintendent John Foley said.

We re waiting to see what that cost is, Mr. Foley said.

The 260,000-square-foot structure, which has been called an anchor of the Old West End neighborhood, opened to students in September, 1913.

Its enrollment peaked in 1931 with 2,370 students. About 925 students are enrolled now.

Looking skyward at the English Gothic building s brick walls and terra cotta trim, Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop said, It doesn t take a rocket scientist to look at this building and say, Don t tear this down.

Noting that his grandfather attended Scott, he said he would advocate for the building at the county level.

Mr. Foley said for the school to be renovated, the district must have the needed funds.

He said the district is hoping voters approve a $37 million bond issue on the November ballot to continue the Building for Success program, which would allow for renovations at Waite High School; the former DeVilbiss High School, which houses the Toledo Technology Academy; the Old West End Academy, and Crossgates,

Edgewater, Glendale-Feilbach, and Harvard elementary schools.

Some funds from the bond issue also will go toward a Scott renovation to make up the difference of what state funds will not cover.

When the school district s bond issue was approved in 2002, voters agreed to cover 23 percent of the building campaign, with the Ohio School Facilities Commission providing the other 77 percent.

At nearly 100 years old, Scott is in need of numerous upgrades to make it handicapped- accessible and bring it up to code, Mr. Foley said.

Yesterday, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, quoting Sir Winston Churchill, told Save Our Scott, We shape our buildings. Thereafter, our buildings shape us.

Scott High School has shaped generations of young men and women, Mr. Finkbeiner said, including his father and grandfather, who both attended the school.

Also speaking at the news conference was Frank Gilbert, a senior field representative with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Mr. Gilbert endorsed the work of Save Our Scott, which has gathered more than 2,000 signatures in favor of preserving the school.

Calling the structure a historic landmark and a masterpiece, Mr. Gilbert said the school is in a strategic location in the neighborhood, was built to last, and complements the historic, restored character of the Old West End homes.

Mr. Gilbert toured the school after the news conference, though he has been in the school previously, he said.

What s most important is the alumni have demonstrated their appreciation for Scott and their commitment to its future, he said.

Contact Kate Giammarise at:kgiammarise@theblade.comor 419-724-6133.

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