Written by J. Patrick Eaken
Friday, 26 September 2008 09:25
Named for Toledoan Morrison R. Waite, who became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1874, “Waite’s traditions and its graduates have been a source of East Side pride ever since the Collegiate Gothic school opened its doors to students on September 14, 1914,” writes historian Larry Michaels.
Michaels wrote “East Side community cornerstone” for Anniversaries — A Celebration of Waite High School, a supplement to The Press on January 12, 2004 celebrating the school’s 90th birthday.
In November, taxpayers will determine if the 94-year old school building will be renovated.
Issue 35 is an update of a bond issue voters passed in 2001. Passage of the levy will allow the board to access $37 million approved in 2001 for the building program that has not been spent. Language in the original bond issue limited the uses of those funds.
The bond is set at .7 mills — the cost to the average homeowner is $16 per year based on a $75,000 house. Passage of the levy will not increase the original commitment that voters approved in 2001.
TPS campaign literature claims Issue 35 provides “an opportunity to finish the job of transforming all of our schools into state-of-the-art learning centers for students in the 21st Century.”
TPS students today are attending classes in 23 new buildings, and by this time next year there will be 31 new buildings. TPS moved forward to Continuous Improvement on the state report card this year.
“We want to keep Waite alive and a viable entity on the East Side,” Diane Irving, Toledo Public Schools assistant superintendent and co-chairperson of the levy committee, said. “The implications are that we want them to be brought into the 21st Century with everybody else that’s part of the new building structures.”
Waite shares the same architect and design as Scott High School — both part of the same capital improvement levy passed four years before construction was finished in 1914.
Today, Scott alumni and preservationists have formed “Save Our Scott,” which has gained publicity across the Toledo metropolitan area. Irving believes the same attention should be paid to Waite.
“My concern is if we fail to generate sort of a global support that those people who are so vocal will get the attention and the general voting population will think it’s just for Scott High School,” Irving said.
“It’s not just for Scott High School. We have seven schools involved in this renovation process and Waite is one of our big ones. We want to make sure that Waite gets a high focus and that’s why we had our kickoff over there,” Irving said.
TPS Superintendent Tom Foley was reportedly taking the role of a marching band drum major to lead the Mollenkopf Stadium kickoff. The support for Waite at the ceremony was overwhelming, Irving said.
“When we were over there for the kickoff it was absolutely amazing,” Irving said. “The East Side always has such huge support and is very positive. It’s just tremendous every time I go over there for functions, whether its graduation or football games or whatever. It’s always a huge and impressive turnout.”
Irving even credited Waite principal Dave Yenrick and three generations of his family that have graduated from Waite High School.
“The Yenricks are such proud hosts over there, and (now retired Waite and TPS administrator) Bob Clark is so active. They are so supportive and they do have a lot of pride in the community.”
A levy failure does not mean Waite will necessarily be replaced by a new building, Irving said.
“It just means Waite won’t be renovated, unless alumni did it like they did for the stadium,” she explained. “But there’s no way alumni are going to raise $12 million. It needs a lot.”
Also on the ballot is Issue 34, a renewal of an operating levy originally passed in 1991. Passage of the emergency levy would generate $15.7 million annually.
The original levy was 4.9 mills, but due to current tax evaluations it is now reduced to 4.8 mills. Cost to homeowners is $110.25, based on a $75,000 house. The district promises passage of the 10-year levy will reduce the number of tax issues facing voters in the future.
“The district understands the financial struggles facing many district taxpayers which is why a renewal is being sought,” TPS officials state in campaign literature.