School Board Agrees to Keep Elementary Schools Open
Grant, Lincoln and Roosevelt elementary schools were all on the chopping block — one of them was expected to close. However, an unexpected increase in enrollment will keep them all open.
The Lakewood Board of Education agreed Monday with the superintendent’s recommendation that no elementary schools be closed — until at least 2014.
As expected, Jeff Patterson urged the board to keep all seven of the district’s elementary schools open, citing a projected increase in enrollment during the next few years.
“As we talk about closing a school, we should use some caution,” Patterson told board members at Monday’s meeting. “We’re going to see a growth of students coming to our schools."
According to U.S. Census data and the city’s live birth records, there are 3,020 children up to 4 years old living in Lakewood. That’s compared to 2,631 children ages 5-9 — a nearly 15 percent increase.
Historically, on average, 79 percent of the children living in the city will enroll in Lakewood City Schools, according to a statement issued by the district.
That means there wouldn’t have been enough room in the remaining six schools, district officials said.
In addition, as many as 750 students would have been affected by the redistricting if the district closed Grant, Lincoln or Roosevelt.
“It makes perfect sense,” said board president Betsy Shaughnessy. “It didn’t make sense (to keep the schools open in 2009), but now it makes sense. You have to be flexible.”
Shaughnessy said her vote in 2009 to shutter Grant was influenced by a recommendation by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, as well as a declining population.
A vote by the board to endorse Patterson’s proposal was not required, however Shaughnessy said that the board could have vetoed the measure if it didn’t support the idea.
However, she said the board would still need to decide how to close the $400,000 budget gap that will emerge as a result of keeping all seven schools open.
“Clearly, we have to make up the money that we would have saved by closing a school,” said Shaughnessy.
The district will now urge the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission to pay for another enrollment projection.
The school board had previously voted — as part of the Phase 3 construction plan — to shutter Grant Elementary School, but Patterson said earlier this year he’d like see which school “makes the most sense” to close.
“I apologize to members of the community if we caused some anxiety,” said Patterson.