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Former East High now District office complex

The former East High School has found new life as the East Professional Center, an administrative and training complex for a number of CMSD departments.

Professional Development, or academic training, programs recently moved to the three-story building at East 79th Street and Superior Avenue, and the District’s Information Technology operation will take over the top floor later this year. CMSD is exploring options for its former training venue, the Barbara Byrd-Bennett Professional Development Center in Bratenahl.

Earlier arrivals, starting in August 2013, included Safety and Security, Athletics, Food and Child Nutrition Services, Facilities, Curriculum and Instruction, Special Education and Early Childhood Education. The facility will eventually serve as a base for more than 200 employees.

“This is really like a commercial office building with different tenants serving needs for the same constituents,” said Patrick Zohn, the District’s chief operating officer.

The last incarnation of East High opened in 1975. When the gym roof collapsed 15 years ago, the repairs launched a districtwide construction and renovation program that continues today. But East’s enrollment declined, and CMSD closed the school in 2010.

Before putting the former school back into productive use, the District had to repair widespread damage caused by vandals and scrap thieves. The intruders smashed windows, cut pipes and yanked out electrical wiring – virtually all of the building’s 230,000 square feet took a hit. 

CMSD has spent more than $1 million on renovation, Zohn said. Workers, mostly CMSD trades employees, have replaced broken windows, missing ceiling panels and floor tiles, erected room dividers, repainted walls and installed carpeting. Offices have been equipped with furniture from the District’s existing inventory. A new parking lot added 150 more spaces.

“Closing a high school certainly has a devastating effect on a neighborhood, as witnessed by the vandalism and scavenging that occurred when East High shut down,” said Councilman TJ Dow, who represents the area.

“But now that this facility has been saved and transformed into a vibrant workplace for more than 200 school district employees, we have a safer and more stable neighborhood. East High is no longer a scene of urban blight. It is an example of hard work and creativity on the part of the school district to preserve both an important facility and its surrounding neighborhood.”

Besides the IT floor renovation and parking, pending work includes replacement of passenger and freight elevators. Procedures are being developed for outside groups to use the facilities, like the renovated auditorium or the Little Theater. Principals, teachers and others now attend training classes in those spaces.

Expanded parking could allow the District to schedule city volleyball and basketball championships in the gym next school year. High school teams are already practicing on the indoor track.