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Construction plan unveiled; open houses begin

CMSD will move swiftly to finish modernizing its facilities, replacing up to 22 schools with new buildings in just four years.

The District will remodel 20 to 23 schools, with that work taking four to five years.

The list of projects and the order are spelled out in a plan presented Tuesday to the Board of Education. The public can learn more and comment on the plan in a series of open houses that begins tonight and continues through March 24.

“This is a draft that is being presented for community feedback over the next month,” Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon told the board.

For a list of open houses, click here

The work was made possible when voters overwhelmingly approved a $200 million bond issue in November. Issue 4, as it appeared on the ballot, will not raise taxes, and the state will contribute more than $2 for every $1 the District spends on new construction.

After the election, the District sought direction from key stakeholders such as School Parent Organizations, city officials, clergy and foundations. The open houses will supply further guidance.

The new construction funded by Issue 4 will come in three phases. Nine buildings are recommended for the first wave, including:

  • A West Side high school, accommodating up to 600 students, to be built on Detroit Avenue after demolition of Max S. Hayes High School. Max Hayes, a career and technical center, will move to a new state-of-the art home near West 65th Street and Clark Ave. in August.
  • A new John F. Kennedy Campus that would include JFK E³agle Academy and PACT (Problem-based Academy of Critical Thinking) – a pair of small high schools created this year to eventually share John F. Kennedy High School -- and a new Charles W. Eliot PreK-8 School. The campus would be located on part of Frederick Douglass Park, contingent on a land swap with the city.
  • A replacement for the former William Rainey Harper School built on Harper's West Side site.
  • A replacement for Sunbeam School, including a wing devoted to the medically fragile students now served by Sunbeam. The new building is envisioned as part of the proposed Skyline Campus, a 20-acre redevelopment involving Neighborhood Progress Inc., the adjacent Benjamin Rose Institute and other community stakeholders.

Other schools to be built in the first phase are Fullerton, O.H. Perry, Waverly and H. Barbara Booker, all elementary schools. Fullerton and H. Barbara Booker would move, with Fullerton shifting a few blocks away to the former site of A.B. Hart School and H. Barbara Booker heading to the site of the former Halle School, which would be torn down.
CMSD also plans to begin construction of a new Campus International School at Cleveland State University after finalizing a lease with the university. That 720-seat school is a holdover from a previous phase of work.

In determining the order of the construction projects, planners gave preference to sites that the District already owns, Chief Operating Office Patrick Zohn said. He said another consideration was convenient access to former schools or other “swing space” where students can attend classes during construction.

“Site control is a very major factor in order to get started as soon as we can,” Zohn told the Board of Education.

Tremont Montessori and Michael R. White schools are among the new buildings planned in the two later phases, but Gordon said the District would keep an open mind as neighborhood stakeholders debate the possibility of renovating structures dating to the early 20th Century.
Plans for a new Lincoln-West High School also could change. An analysis will determine whether the cost of renovation is low enough to qualify for state funding or whether part of the existing building can be saved and combined with new construction.

Remodeling will begin this summer. The first schools set for work are Joseph M. Gallagher, Wilbur Wright, Louis Agassiz, Ginn Academy, Willow and Carl F. Shuler.

Shuler has served as swing space during construction of John Marshall Campus, which is to open in August. The growing Bard High School Early College Cleveland, in its first year, will move to Shuler for next school year and could make the building its permanent home.

Bard, operated in conjunction with Bard College of New York, is now at the former Brooklawn School but will soon outgrow that space. New Tech West High School, which occupied part of the existing Max Hayes, will move to Brooklawn.

As new buildings go up, CMSD will tear down older buildings, reducing surplus space in the process.

The District will restore unneeded school sites to community green space after demolition. Zohn said the sites will be “environmentally friendly” and “ready to build” if later sold for development.

CMSD, working with the state, began its modernization campaign in 2001, after the gym roof collapsed at the East Professional Center, formerly East High. Since then, the District has built 34 schools and fully renovated seven others.