The first decade of the new millennium saw extensive construction of new schools throughout Ohio, and several area districts and Penta Career Center joined right in.
Some of the new construction was prompted out of necessity because older buildings had become too small, too outdated to accommodate growing technological and other educational needs, and more expensive to maintain/upgrade than to replace.
However, the biggest catalyst for improvements was the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which was created by the state in 1997 with funds from a major state bond issue, tobacco settlement and general fund proceeds. Its purpose – to provide funding, management oversight and assistance for the construction and renovation of public school facilities. Districts statewide could leverage state money to pay for building construction by paying matching funds based on the district’s wealth.
Toledo Public Schools, the largest school district in the area and one of its poorest, took advantage of that leverage to undertake what was originally proposed in 2002 as an $820-million-plus construction program to replace or renovate district schools. The state was to pay more than 75 percent of the cost while, TPS paid less than 25 percent from a 4.99-mill levy approved by voters in 2002.
TPS later scaled back the plan dramatically under direction of the OSFC to some $635 million because of projected enrollment declines, but more than 40 new buildings were still planned. Five new buildings have been dedicated on Toledo’s east side: Oakdale Elementary and East Broadway Middle schools in 2006, Navarre and Garfield elementaries in 2007 and Raymer Elementary last September.
In 2006, the TPS board of education voted to close five schools – including East Toledo Junior High, which housed some 725 students – to help reduce half of a $12 million budget deficit projected for 2006-2007. In addition, East Side Central Elementary was closed. The new East Broadway Middle School opened in early 2006 as the only building intended for grades six to eight.
Nevertheless, the construction program has continued and work on a new Birmingham Elementary began in November. Renovations also are planned for Waite High School, funded by a district bond measure approved by voters in 2008.
Here’s a summary of what’s happened at other area school districts:
Oregon City Schools
In November 2004, voters passed a 4.4-mill bond levy that would bring in $45 million to remodel Eisenhower and Fassett middle schools, construct additions to Jerusalem, Starr and Wynn elementary schools, build an addition to Clay High School, and construct a new Coy Elementary School.
The new Coy, which opened its doors for the 2007-08 school year, was built at 3604 Pickle Rd., down the street from the 81-year old building where generations of students learned `readin’, writin’ and `rithmetic.
Starr Elementary School added new kindergarten classrooms, a special-education classroom and a computer-lab addition.
Jerusalem added a large addition to the southern portion of the school, as well as new entrance. Wynn's addition houses a gym, kitchen, and dining area; three kindergarten classrooms, and an administrative area.
Clay students rang in 2008 with new digs, which included a V-shaped addition connected to the front of the school for classrooms, science and computer labs, and a media center. Two old school buildings on either side of the main high school were demolished to make way for additional parking lots. An expansion on the back of the high school accommodated career-prep courses. All of the district's buildings were at least 40 years old before the projects began.
This past summer, the district upgraded its middle schools with all new windows, new electrical systems, upgraded locker rooms, upgraded ADA bathrooms, and new security doors throughout the buildings. Cameras were also added in all the buildings to increase safety. In addition, fiber optic cable was installed in all buildings, increasing the speed and efficiency of computer systems.
Genoa Area Local Schools
In Genoa, the 2001-02 school year saw the opening of the new John C. Roberts Middle School building. The district also opened a $1.4 million health/physical education facility, which was open to the community. The facility was a joint project of the school board and athletic boosters.
Each issue of “The Comet Communicator,” the district’s newsletter, included updates of the construction for the project, which began after voters approved a 2.16-mill, 28-year bond issue in May 1999. The new building, built adjacent to the high school, featured 22 classrooms, a computer lab and a gym with seating for about 500. Construction cost was about $5.96 million.
That same year, construction projects included a new cafeteria at Brunner Elementary and an elevator at Allen Central School.
During the 2002-03 school year, the administration building in Clay Center was vacated for new office space at the campus on Genoa-Clay Center Road.
In September 2009, the district held a groundbreaking for the new K-5 elementary building at the proposed building site on the current high/middle school property. In 2008, voters approved a 1.9-mill bond issue and a 1.5-mill continuing maintenance levy to build the school and improve portions of the current high school building. The new school, which will replace Allen Central and Brunner, is expected to be ready for the 2011-12 school year. It will incorporate a geothermal heating and cooling system and roofline windows to provide “day lighting” for the classrooms, in keeping with “green” construction standards certification.
Lake Local Schools
The 2001 issue of The Press Progress section reported that the school board and administration intended to spend much of the year planning for the construction of a new middle school and other projects. Voters approved a 25-year bond issue in November 2000 to fund the $14.8 million project, which also included improvements to Lake and Walbridge elementary schools and plans for a soccer and track facility.
The new Lake Middle School, which opened in 2003, would accommodate about 625 students in grades five through eight. The school, which cost about $8 million, would be built between Lake Elementary and the high school at 28080 Lemoyne Rd.
The cost of the school and building improvements would be financed by a 4.95-mill levy approved in November 2000.
Also in 2003, the district made improvements to the football stadium and the soccer/track complex. Other highlights from the past decade include the sale of the Millbury building and relocation of the central office to the main campus; construction of the district Web site; implementation of all-day every-day kindergarten; renovation of the high school auditorium; and a new press box/concession stand/storage facility for track and soccer paid for by the Lake Athletic Boosters.
Gibsonburg Exempted Village Schools
In early January 2004, the Gibsonburg Exempted Village Schools completed the “big move” into its new $16 million secondary school complex, built on a 52-acre site just south of town across from White Star Park.
Construction of the school, which would accommodate students in grades six through 12, was part of a $24 million project to upgrade the district’s buildings. The project also included a renovation and expansion of Hilfiker Elementary School. The Ohio School Facilities Commission contributed more than $18 million toward the work. In November 2000, Gibsonburg voters approved the local share of the project plus $1.5 million in work for a new football stadium, ball diamonds and other improvements.
The district also upgraded technology infrastructure with more than 600 computers for 1,100 students and implemented a strategic five-year plan in 11 areas of operation.
Penta Career Center
Penta Career Center opened its new $90.6 million, 522,000-square-foot facility on a scenic 150-acre campus in Perrysburg Township on Sept. 2, 2008.
The new facility which served as a model for environmentally-sensitive design, includes professionally designed career-technical labs, science labs and academic classrooms; an expansive commons area; state-of-the-art infrastructure for technology; an expanded media center; and flexible meeting space.
Penta serves students from 16 school districts including Benton-Carroll-Salem, Eastwood, Genoa, Lake, Northwood and Woodmore.
Kateri Catholic Academy
Kateri Catholic Academy, a Catholic middle school for children in grades 6-8, opened in the fall of 2009 in a dedicated a wing at Cardinal Stritch High School in Oregon.
In response to declining enrollment and the financial concerns of several Catholic parishes in the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Deanery, schools were consolidated leaving two grade schools and one middle school. The Toledo Campus elementary school is located in the former St. Thomas Aquinas School, and the Walbridge campus is in the former St. Jerome School.
The school system is supported by nine Catholic parishes.
Northwood Local Schools
Highlights from Northwood Schools in the last decade include:
• A rating of “Excellent” on the ODE Report Card in 2006, 2008 and 2009;
• In 2001, the high school science classrooms were remodeled and upgraded with more lab space, storage space, and updated safety features. Lab classes can now be taught in all science classrooms.
• Between 2001 and 2009 the high school has gone from one computer lab to four, with additional computers for student use in the media center and consumer science classrooms. Each teacher has a computer.
• In 2007, a high school classroom was remodeled into two special needs learning labs, replacing self-contained classes for students with disabilities, allowing students take all classes with their fellow students and receive intervention assistance as needed in the learning labs.
• Over the past decade, the school outdoor athletic facilities received a major upgrade with the support of the Athletic Boosters and Northwood Community Athletic Project. Improvements include a complete renovation of the stadium, with new bleachers, concession stand, all-weather track, scoreboard, fencing, ticket booths, and re-built playing surface with watering system. A new restroom building will be completed in 2010. Other projects included a soccer field with bleachers, fencing and scoreboard; new scoreboards for baseball and softball fields and improvements in playing surfaces for baseball and softball.
Woodmore Local Schools
“As with most districts, the decrease in state funding and increase in unfunded mandates has been a challenge to maintain our educational programs, as well as our building and grounds over the past decade,” said Jane Garling, Woodmore Local School District superintendent.
In November, voters rejected a bond issue that would have helped fund the construction of a new elementary school. The 6.97-mill 37-year bond issue would have raised $19.5 million for the project. A 0.5-mill permanent improvement levy was also on the ballot along with the bond issue. The total estimated cost of the project was $25.9 million, with the Ohio School Facilities Commission providing about $6.4 million.
Highlights from the last decade include:
• The Woodmore Strategic Plan Committee formed in 2007, and teams have met many goals for community involvement, improving state testing results, safety and security in the schools, building assessment; and school schedules; as well as communication with staff, parents and the public.
• All-day kindergarten was implemented as a pilot program for the 2006-07 school year.
• Woodmore started its own preschool unit for the 2008-09 school year. A second preschool unit was added for the 2009-10 school year.
• Due to the need for extra classroom space at the elementary, the Central Office moved from the elementary location to the present location at 115 Water St. in Woodville and two modular classrooms were set in the elementary site.
• The C.A.G.E. Committee completed the first phase of improvements of their plans by completing the installation of the all-weather track. The committee is currently working on the second phase of improvements to the entrance of the stadium area.
• Since the 2008-09 school year, new computers and upgrades to the system have taken place at both the elementary and high school buildings.
• Donations and volunteer labor has allowed the district to update its baseball facilities. “Our coaches, boosters and volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide a beautiful playing field for our students,” Garling said.
Eastwood Local Schools
The 2000-01 school year marked the completion of a major renovation of the high school, which included new bleachers in the gym and new seats and carpeting in the auditorium. Additional classroom space added before the start of the school year.
The past decade has seen significant technology upgrades throughout the district, including more than 40 SMART Boards in use by in grades one through 12 and the addition of Progress Book, which gives parents access to their children’s academic work. Free programs like Moodle have allowed the classroom to be extended beyond the school day again minimizing obstacles between parents, kids, and teachers.
In addition, Eastwood is one of four Northwest Ohio districts to earn the state’s highest designation of Excellent with Distinction for the last two years. In addition the district’s Performance Index has risen from 15th in 2005-2006 to seventh in 2008-2009 in Northwest Ohio.
Currently the district is in the process of mapping out a plan for improvements to the elementary buildings, after voters in November rejected a 2.64-mill bond levy and an 0.75-mill permanent improvement levy that would have been used to construct and maintain a new elementary school on the central campus.
“Now that we are going to be in these buildings for the foreseeable future, we will be looking to put a group together to look at how we can best work to extend their useful life,” Superintendent Brent Welker told The Press after the election. “The goal will be to develop a plan and a cost analysis for making needed improvements to the infrastructure of each building.”
Over the past 10 years, Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools have continued to invest in updating and maintaining their building and grounds.
• A new fully digital sign installed in front of the high school during the 2009-10 school year to highlight school activities and community events.
• Implementation of a 1:1 computing project for all fourth graders across the district during the 2009-2010 school year. Netbooks were purchased for each fourth grade classroom allowing for full-day access to computers, digital resources, and research tools.
• Installation of a total of 53 interactive SMART Boards in classrooms throughout the district.
• An upgrade of Internet access speed from 1.5 Mb/s to 100 Mb/s.