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Canfield reviews survey data

District starts work on new school plan

CANFIELD — Superintendent Joe Knoll hosted a special “kickoff” meeting Wednesday on the road to putting together a new master plan for the district’s facilities.

The bond levy was defeated in May. It would have been a 6.9-mill bond levy spread over 37 years, raising $107,800,000 to build a new elementary and middle school facility on the Red Gate property in Canfield Township. The levy was defeated by 72 percent of voters.

Right after the vote, the Canfield Board of Education decided not to place the levy back on the ballot for a special August election. Instead, a survey was placed on the school website on July 6 and after 23 days the results were tallied. Those results were presented at Wednesday’s meeting.

“We had 1,271 respond to our survey,” Knoll said. “Seventy-nine percent said the reason the levy failed was the cost to taxpayers and residents.”

Coming in second with 66 percent (respondents were asked to choose all that apply) was the proposed location of a new facility on the city-owned Red Gate property. As for where respondents claimed they received their information on the bond levy, 58 percent said Facebook and 56 percent were from word of mouth. Again, the question asked to check all that apply.

On the issue of the buildings, 39 percent preferred separate elementary and middle school buildings, while 38 percent supported consolidating the two schools buildings into one. On the school buildings being rated for condition, the high school and Hilltop were considered adequate by 69 and 56 percent. The middle school got 75 percent saying it was in poor condition.

As to what options survey responders said they would support for each building, 72 percent said they would build a new middle school, 54 percent said they would renovate the elementary school, and it was a 37 to 36 percent split between renovating or building a new structure for C.H. Campbell Elementary School.

Knoll said having that many respond to the survey was a good thing, but he said now is the time to begin again.

“We are starting over,” he said. “It all begins right here, tonight.”

He turned the floor over to Cheryl Fisher, educational planner with Then Design Architecture (TDA), who was hired to assist the district in forming a master plan.

“This is a re-starting point from tonight forward,” she said. “This master plan needs to be community driven.”

She answered the question of why do it now. She said doing nothing is not an option. Rising construction costs are also an issue, and she stated those costs have risen by 52 percent in the past four years alone.

Knoll said the planning road map has been laid out. He said from now through December, the data will be reviewed and tours will be made of the district’s buildings. In January, visioning sessions will take place and by April, the hope is to have a master plan to present to the Board of Education.

“Keep in mind, the board will decide in April whether they want to move forward or not,” Knoll said. “That is our roadmap and anyone is welcome to become part of the process.”

He said those interested on working on a new master plan can sign up through the school’s website. He said on the main page at www.canfieldschools.net, click on the facilities resources button, then scroll to the bottom of that page to sign up.

Knoll also said anyone with questions should send them to jknoll@canfieldschools.net. He said the next meeting should be at Hillside Elementary School, with a date to be announced.

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