The Press Newspaper
When it was announced Waite High School would receive $17.2 million for renovation by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, alumni were concerned because Scott was getting closer to $37 million.
Waite’s number ended up being closer to $20 million, but even Principal David Yenrick, an alumnus, made it clear that he was not pleased that Waite was getting $17 million less for renovation than its architectural twin, Scott.
He expressed his concerns several years ago while acting as a tour guide pointing out Waite’s then-upcoming renovations. The tours were part of the East Toledo Club’s walk-a-thon fundraiser. Yenrick noted that Waite was housing about 1,200 students, personnel, and faculty, which nearly doubled Scott’s numbers — about 600 students.
As Waite’s renovation approaches its completion this fall, Waite Alumni Association chairman Shirley Jean Clark says Waite alumni are getting over it.
“Everybody compares this to Scott High School and that Scott got twice as much money but we got more local money,” Clark said. “The Toledo Board of Education and the taxpayers of Toledo supported Waite High School — it wasn’t money from the state, and they have been judicious in spending that money, trying to be as careful as we can and use every dime of it.
“Quite honestly, people felt that we got a little cheated with the Scott difference, but we really try to downplay that now. We cannot go to the past and hope for something else. Generally, we try to be as prideful as we can about what we did get. I’m pleased with everything that we have gotten.”
Clark said alumni are pleased that Waite did not get razed. When the OSFC funds were originally announced, alumni feared the worst.
“There was a great deal of concern as we were involved in studying this project that Waite would still be around, that it would have the fate that Libbey had,” Clark said. “With the state coming in and saying, ‘Hey, you don’t need all these high schools,’ and the east siders knowing that we need our high school in East Toledo. That’s when the project started.
“We actually were a little slow on the start of it. The Scott people got involved faster than we did, and quite frankly, if they hadn’t gotten involved, we probably wouldn’t have gotten the funds that we got. So we have to thank our sisters and brothers at Scott.
“We don’t have to be jealous. They are twin schools, but they are very different now. I think Waite will end up with 75 classrooms, and I think Scott has only 32. Where they gutted the entire second floor and are making a media center, well, we are making classrooms.
“I’m kind of glad in a way because the alumni have been able to get involved, be supportive, and have input, and in the few meetings we had people from the street there. They had come in worrying about parking, and we are worrying about classrooms. So, it’s kind of good that it didn’t get that kind of publicity.”
Project manager Gary Ashford of Duket Architect Planners, which has offices on North Summit Street, Toledo, admits that while renovating they found additional problems that will likely have to be dealt with later.
“I think the workers have tried to do their best where they could and use money where they could. Of course, do I wish we could do more? Absolutely. Do I have promises that we are going to make a wish list and that wish list is going to be honored? I’m feeling confident that it is,” Clark said.
“We’re looking at energy grants and we’re looking at landscaping grants. That’s the next project is to do landscaping.”
The air conditioning and heating systems are in, but not functioning yet. They won’t be until the main construction is done, Ashford said, but the air should be available when students arrive in the fall.
Clark says she has been told all renovations will be done by October 15. In two years, Morrison R. Waite High School will be celebrating its 100th anniversary.
“Dave Yenrick and the alumni association are talking about when to do the rededication,” Clark said. “We are thinking that we may wait until our 100th anniversary — May 20, 2014, at our major dinner, or around that time.”