CLEVELAND (WJW) – A new multi-million dollar plan proposed for the Parma City School District would transform the district’s footprint, by closing, repurposing and building new schools.
The plan, executed in two phases, would replace 15 currently operating schools with nine new campuses.
Superintendent Charles Smialek says the changes are necessary.
“At one point we were above 26,000 students. Now we’re just under 10,000 students, so we had to take a hard look at our facilities and knew consolidation was something we had to pursue,” said Smialek.
A series of failed levies has resulted in proposed cuts to the district in the past. The superintendent says voters have not approved a new money levy since 2011.
District leaders say the latest proposal is the result of 24 community meetings where the residents were asked for feedback.
Phase one includes the closure of Parma Senior High School. The building would become a community center, with public access to a pool, gym and theaters. In addition to an opportunity center for students with Autism, an alumni museum, center for culinary, cosmetology and technical education.
Changes would also be made to existing middle schools.
“Price tag would be $263 million, that equates to a 6.12 mill levy and that breaks down to 17.83 cents per month for the owner of a $100,000 home,” said the superintendent.
The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) will pay for 34% of phase one construction which is co-funded. A credit the superintendent says the district will then apply to phase two; the construction of six elementary campuses.
Parma Mayor Timothy DeGeeter says he supports the plan.
“I’m sure people who attended Parma High School, alumni, it’s a very traumatic closing the high school but there’s tough choices that have to be made,” said Mayor DeGeeter.
Seven Hills Mayor Anthony Biasiotta said, “no one solution is certain to please everyone.”
In a statement he added that he is pleased the city will once again have an elementary school to serve the community.
Two future bond issues are expected, the first intended for November 2020. The board of education will vote to endorse or reject the consolidation plan on December 19.
“We are really operating schools that even the state deems obsolete,” said Smialek. “We also continue to put millions of millions of dollars into our schools just to keep them warm safe and dry.”