Getting Answers: Elyria Schools change plans to build new facilities

A couple hundred people attended the school board meeting Wednesday night. (Source: WOIO)
A couple hundred people attended the school board meeting Wednesday night. (Source: WOIO)

ELYRIA, OH (WOIO) - Elyria City Schools are embroiled in controversy over changes to a master plan for new facilities.

City voters passed a 3.86 million, 35-year bond in November 2016, planning to replace the aging elementary and middle school buildings with five new ones.

Now, they may scrap the two elementary schools originally planned for the city's south side. We're Asking Questions and Getting Answers about why.

What did the bond issue promise?

  • Two K-8 Schools
  • Two K-4 Schools
  • One PreK-8 School

How much would the plans cost?

The overall budget for the new facilities is about $127 million.

How over budget are the plans?

As of last week, they're over budget about $3.5 million. After realizing they couldn't make the budget, the state recommended scrapping the two schools planned for the city's south side.

There's still a big question for voters who cast their ballots for the bond issue back in November 2016.

How did this happen?

The school board says construction costs are much higher now than they were in 2015, when the original plans were drawn out. After they began taking bids, they were all too high, driving the project millions over budget.

What happens now?

That depends on the school board. They haven't made a final decision about whether to permanently halt the Ely Elementary and Hamilton School projects.

Residents speak out

Cleveland19 went to the school board meeting Wednesday night, where a couple hundred parents and community members showed up to voice their concerns.

Kneisha Dunnigan can't believe Franklin Elementary School in Elyria is on the chopping block.

"It would devastate the community," she said, getting choked up. "It really would. It's not just a school, it provides so many different aids for the kids," she said.

Dunnigan works with impoverished students at Save Our Children, a nonprofit on the south side of Elyria.

"They're wonderful children. But they're not given the same, the same outlook on life as other kids. 'Cause they have to grow up before they should," she said.

"We kept our promise to you. We passed this levy. Not by a little bit, but by a lot," Jim Slone said to school board members.

Councilmember Marcus Madison grew up on the south side. He worries about mentoring programs and school transportation.

"In the neighborhood school we have now, kids can walk and families know exactly what schedule is to get kids to and from school. And now we're hearing we're going to have to bus over 400 of our scholars out of this neighborhood to a variety of schools spread out across the city," Madison said.

Even people who don't live on that side of town, like Slone, worry about the possible changes.

"If you don't build a school building on our south side, you might as well say we're going to cut off the south side of our city and throw it away. Because that's what you're doing," he said.

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