Plans for new schools worry Warren locals

Taxpayers say they are not
getting what they voted for.



WARREN — Some residents attending a Courthouse Square rally Monday expressed concern that new city schools would be built only on the East Side.

West-Siders on hand said they feel neglected because the construction of schools has yet to start on their side of town.

The Rev. Ronald Fowlis, president of the Warren-Trumbull chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said about 60 residents from all sectors of Warren came to express their dissatisfaction with the school board.

“We are expressing in the open Courthouse Square what we really feel and think,” he said.

Larry Dueber, a member of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, said there are two main concerns for the city of Warren: schools and housing.

The association has existed for nine months, and its main focus is the Northwest Side.

He said city taxpayers are not getting what they were promised when they voted in November 2003 for borrowing $40.7 million through the sale of bonds to finance the school district’s share of a $153 million school construction project.

These people are concerned because the Ohio School Facilities Commission’s recent re-evaluation of the Warren City School District called for a reduction in the size of future buildings.

The re-evaluation was completed by DeJONG Inc., a Dublin-based firm. It projected 1,660 fewer pupils in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 by the 2016-17 school year. Pupil enrollment at the end of the last academic year was 5,751.

Three options

Dueber said he is not quite supportive of the three options presented by the OSFC for the reconstruction of the new schools. He said he wants more details about the options:

UOption one includes the construction of two kindergarten through eighth-grade buildings. One building will be at the Jefferson School site and the other at the Parkman Road site (on the West Side). But the Parkman site will have extra mitigation costs because of wetlands, and environmental prohibitions disallow buildings on wetlands.

UAnother option would be to combine the two schools into one large school with the site to be determined. The building size would be about 161,000 square feet.

UThe third option is to renovate the current Reserve building (also on the West Side) and partial new construction to create a K-8 school.

Open session planned

The school board will have a public work session to discuss the impact of the readjusted enrollment at 6 p.m. July 17 at Packard Shelter House on Mahoning Avenue.

Councilman Alfred Novak, D-2nd, said he has been an observer of the Warren Board of Education for 20 years. “I don’t want to see a division between the east and the west,” he said.

He said city council has supported the bonds for the schools because it is important to have quality schools on both sides of town. He said the residents are not getting what they expected.

The Rev. Kevin Parks from Grace African Methodist Episcopal church, located in the heart of Warren, said he doesn’t want to oust the school board, but he wants something equal on the West Side.

He said the west was promised new schools and hasn’t seen any yet.

“This is a pattern of neglect at the West Side,” he said.

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