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School could become new City Hall and Senior Center facility: Would depend on voters' approval of money to build new schools in district
January 24, 2008
by Tim Troglen
Maple Heights -- The students may not be the only ones getting new buildings if voters approve a March 4 school construction bond issue.
District 7 Councilor Joe Szumski, who heads up the Council education committee, made a motion at the Jan. 16 Council meeting to ask the Maple Heights School Board, if the March issue passes, to allow "possible use of Rockside Elementary School as a City Hall or Senior Center."
School district voters have been asked to approve the 7.8 mill, 28-year construction bond issue to provide $53 million to build a new high school, middle school and three elementary schools over the next three years.
The state has pledged to give the district $55 million in matching funds for the project, from the state's legal settlement with tobacco companies.
After new construction, the plan calls for the schools to be demolished, with Rockside Elementary, 5740 Lawn Ave., left for possible community use.
Szumski said the committee toured Rockside Elementary Jan. 9 and was impressed by the school and the possibilities it held for the city.
"It is a very good idea and would work well for the city and the Board," said Board member Robert Dober.
Most seemed to be on board with the suggestion, with District 2 Councilor Toni Jones abstaining and District 6 Councilor Pat Houston voting "no."
"I abstained because there are many uses for a building that size, and we need to carefully weigh all the options that would be in the best interest of the city and our residents," Jones said. "I was very surprised that Mr. Szumski offered a commitment for a City Hall and Senior Center decision without considering other alternatives or even knowing if the building is large enough to accommodate both functions."
Houston said the city could use the school for a recreation center or bring in the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to set up in the school. She said the only cost to the city would be some interior reconstruction to Rockside Elementary.
District 3 Councilor Anthony Cefaratti, who supported Szumski's motion, said the school holds "endless possibilities." He suggested perhaps using the school grounds for a city garden or a site to be considered if a new city swimming pool is to be built.
Szumski said if the bond issue passes, it would still take about three years before the students would move out of Rockside Elementary.
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