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Nonprofit's plan would keep Collinwood High, add community uses





Collinwood High School would remain a neighborhood fixture but take on additional roles under a proposal the District is discussing with a Cleveland-based nonprofit.

The WorkRoom Program Alliance would buy the massive building and lease back a portion to CMSD. Plans call for converting remaining space to other uses, including an adult training center for manufacturing and robotics.

“Our mission has been to reconnect communities to the companies doing business in their neighborhoods,” said Jason Drake, WorkRoom’s executive director. “The Collinwood complex would be a huge step forward in that mission.”

In addition to school use and job training, the complex could house recreation and medical facilities.

The Board of Education on Tuesday authorized CEO Eric Gordon to negotiate a sale and lease agreement with the organization. That will pave the way for the nonprofit to seek economic development funding needed to modernize the building.

In late 2019, Gordon was poised to recommend closing the school, which then housed about 200 students in space that once held 3,000 or more. The recommendation was part of long-term planning designed to maximize use of District facilities.

The CEO reconsidered after neighborhood leaders protested, but he called on the community to help fill excess space and restore the building to status as an anchor in the area known as Five Points.

"The closure of Collinwood High School would have had a tragic impact on the Five Points business district as well as the Collinwood neighborhood as a whole,” said Jamar Doyle, executive director of the Greater Collinwood Development Corp. “This action creates a real opportunity to reposition the facility as a training hub for 21st Century careers.

“I am excited for what this means for the youth in our community and for the employment pipeline that can be created between the school and the manufacturing community in Collinwood, over time activating underutilized space with advanced training programs,” he added. “Greater Collinwood Development is collaboratively working with both CMSD and the WorkRoom Program Alliance to ensure our community is engaged in the process of this key development.”

CEO Gordon said the WorkRoom Program Alliance’s plans align with District efforts to develop workforce pathways in sectors that drive the local economy: manufacturing, health care, information technology and construction.

In a similar move, the District recently agreed to sell the former Margaret Ireland School to the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network for use as a workforce and innovation hub. CMSD will lease space in the building, and students will visit for career exploration.