Plan would expand high school, switch career center affiliations

The board member wants 20 high school class units.
NILES -- A school board member has a plan to expand McKinley High School, and it involves severing ties with the Gordon D. James Career Center to join Trumbull County Career and Technical Center.
The high school hasn't expanded since it opened in 1957 despite an increase in the number of course offerings.
"I've had a few phone calls about the high school, and it's like putting quarts of water into a gallon bottle," said John Davis, school board member.
Voters rejected in February 1999 a levy to build a new high school. Technology at the school also is deficient, he says.
He wants to see 20 classrooms added at the high school with technology and sciences being the focus. The additional space also would allow the band room to move to another part of the building.
Estimated cost: Davis estimates it would cost about $4 million to accommodate the plan. That includes a rough estimate of $1.75 million for renovations and $2.25 million for the addition. The cost for the addition is based on $125 per square foot and classroom units of 900 square feet.
He acknowledged the unlikelihood of voters' passing a levy to fund it and the uncertainty of getting more money from the Ohio School Facilities Commission to fund it. The state panel approved a grant for the district's new middle school now under construction.
The district could borrow the money, based on a current prime rate of 6 percent, on a 20-year payback plan. By severing its ties with the GDJCC and joining the Trumbull County facility, the district could save more than $350,000 annually in general funds. That money could instead be used to pay back the loan.
GDJCC is a five-school district consortium run by Lordstown schools. Of the five districts, Niles sends the most students to the school, and each of the districts pays tuition per student.
There isn't a tuition charge to go to the Trumbull County facility, but under state law, the residents and businesses of communities that join the facility pay an unvoted property tax of about 2 mills.
But the new classrooms will allow taxpayers to see the tangible results of their money, Davis said.
Recommendation expected: Superintendent Patrick Guliano declined to comment on the GDJCC aspect of Davis' plan. The district has been exploring an affiliation with TCTC, and Guliano is expected to make a recommendation to the school board. No date has been set. The current GDJCC contract expires in 2002.
The school facilities commission is developing a master plan including all district buildings.
"We're on hold," Guliano said. "The Ohio School Facilities Commission has asked us not to do anything more with any of our buildings until those assessments are done."

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