PARMA, Ohio (WJW) – Soon, only pictures will remain of Parma Senior High School, along with the memories of former students upset about its demolition.
“Devastated. I have a lot of memories there,” said Shawna Melnykowski a graduate of the school and Parma City School District parent.
Melnykowski and her mother Patricia Nemeth said they wanted to see the school renovated instead of torn down.
“I just can’t image what it’s going to do for the entire community,” said Melnykowski.
Both believe the fate of the high school, built in the 1950s, could have been avoided.
“They should stop what they’re doing and get a real plan in place that includes what the taxpayers want,” said Nemeth. “What’s good for education and what’s good for the community? That’s not what we have right now.”
In a November 2022 interview with FOX 8, Superintendent Charles Smialek described how gaining voter support was a historically uphill battle.
“Since the year 2000, we’ve now asked for money 22 times and been successful three of them,” he said.
In August, he announced an additional funding option was overlooked that could have helped pay for school renovations. However, he said a bond issue would have still needed community support.
“Parma Senior being demolished without the funds to rebuild will only deepen the mistrust the community feels,” said newly-elected school board member Ashley McTaggart. “The community was told for years that the only option was to rebuild the school in order to get OFCC funds. Once this was proven incorrect, the right thing to do would have been to hit pause on the demolition and refocus.”
Brittany Kurpik, also a new elect to the school board added, “I hold the firm belief that the current board did not exhaustively explore all available options to preserve this vital structure. It’s disheartening to witness the loss of a cornerstone in our community without exhaustive consideration of potential avenues to preserve its legacy.”
Smialek released the following statement about the demolition:
“It’s definitely a sad day for our district and community. None of us went into education to close and demolish schools. At the same time, this is a step forward for our schools in terms of fiscal accountability. We are saving $3.2 million a year because of our consolidation plan. We use this money to keep class sizes manageable, offer a wide array of extracurricular opportunities at no cost to families and continue to provide many elective courses in which our high school students can enroll.”
“They were deficient in finding all solutions,” said Melnykowski. “When they take it down, it’s going to put a huge hole in the whole city where a community once came together in the city of Parma. Now there’s going to be a big empty lot.”