Community considers school building options

Some residents are upset land purchased for new school construction is not being used.



WARREN — With tears in her eyes, Susan Moore expressed her anger toward the Warren Board of Education.

Moore said the city’s west side always gets the short end of the stick, whereas the east side gets chosen first.

“You treat us on the other side of the [Market Street] bridge like dirt,” Moore said to board.

The room was packed at Tuesday night’s special work session. The 300 seats were filled.

The crowd cheered and hollered as Moore expressed her frustration with the board’s decision to not yet start building a school on the west side.

The residents were presented with some general information about the construction of the new schools, which included the three options by the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

Option 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.

Another 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.

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

Upset residents

The three options resulted from a re-evaluation completed b 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.

Resident Felipe Romain said the board came unprepared and didn’t answer any of his questions. Romain said he is questioning the equality of the decisions.

He said he doesn’t know why a school is not being built on the west side.

“After four years, [we are] finally having real dialogue,” Romain said. “It’s too late.”

In November 2003, district voters approved borrowing $40.7 million through the sale of bonds to finance the district’s share of a $153 million school construction project.

Residents are fired up because the board purchased the Parkman site and a school is not being built there yet because it is wetlands.

Mary Anne Franklin, another west side resident, said the Parkman Road site should have never been recognized.

Board defends itself

Board member Linda Metzendorf said the board did not know at the time of purchase that the Parkman site was wetlands, but she said it is a “good viable piece of property.

Board President Ed Bolino said he made an error in judgment when purchasing the Parkman site at that time.

“We tried to do the best we can for the west side and it turned out to be a mistake,” he said.

Bolino’s response was met with boos from the audience.

The Rev. Ronald Fowlis, president of the Warren-Trumbull chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said if the board built a school on each side of town they wouldn’t be in the mess they are in right now.

One way to solve some future problems with the board, he said, is to not re-elect it.

Mayor Michael O’Brien said he is sad to see the community split.

He said the community needs to work together, and he hopes the board makes the right decision and builds two schools on the west side.

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