POLAND Officials look to combine 2 school buildings

Council will discuss the matter again April 15.
POLAND -- Village officials are looking for public input before making a decision that would allow a $3 million upgrade to two school buildings and changes in the layout of a street.
Since the late 1800s there has been a school building at the Elm Street location where Poland Middle School now sits. McKinley Elementary School, across the street, was built in the 1960s.
Those two buildings may soon be combined into one structure, including six more classrooms, new landscaping and a cafetorium.
The school board is looking to remove a small portion of Elm Street that divides the two buildings and install a cafetorium with enclosed connecting ramps. Work would be done to the outside of each building to give the impression of one continuous structure.
Before any work can be done, village council must agree to vacate at least that portion of Elm Street that separates the two buildings. Councilman Joe Mazur said council has discussed the matter but wants public input.
Mazur said legal concerns would prevent vacating the entire street.
Street plan
The end of Elm Street closest to College Street would be blocked to vehicles and used as a walkway to the cafetorium.
One house sits at that end of the street. Mazur said the impact on the people living there would be minimal because the home's driveway is on College Street.
There are also two homes at the opposite end of Elm, which would be made into a cul-de-sac.
George Spirtos, who lives at that end, said the plans would not affect his family. He said the section of the street between the schools is usually blocked by buses and cars anyway.
His biggest concern, he said, is that buses have a designated safe place to pick up pupils.
Superintendent Robert Zorn has said pupils would be released from a central door in front of the building, with enough room to safely board buses or wait for parents.
Karen Funk, the other homeowner in the potential cul-de-sac, said the school has always been a good neighbor and the addition will be good for homeowners in the immediate area. She said the already peaceful neighborhood will be even more quiet with no through traffic.
Village council will discuss the matter and take input at 6:30 p.m. April 15 in village hall.
According to Zorn, making the improvements will upgrade the schools' aesthetics, solve a potential sanitary problem, increase safety and boost the educational tools available to pupils.

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