Superintendent Looks to Halt Closing of Grant Elementary (Or Any Other Schools)
Jeff Patterson is expected to make that pitch tonight to the Lakewood Board of Education.
With a sharp increase in students currently projected to enter the Lakewood City Schools, the district is going to need all the elementary schools that it’s got.
That means that earlier plans to shutter Grant Elementary School may be put on hold — at least through 2014 — while district officials weigh their options.
Superintendent Jeff Patterson said that he’s going to officially present a plan to the Lakewood School Board tonight, that will ask them to reconsider plans to close Grant.
Instead, he hopes the board will consider urging the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission to pay for another enrollment projection.
Patterson said that according to the US Census, the number of children from birth to 5 years old has spiked.
“We’re going to see a growth of students coming to our schools,” he said. “We’re predicating another increase this year, and based on the numbers we’re seeing projected for the next four years, it will continue to increase.”
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.
Closing any one of the schools would likely save the district about $400,000, said Rick Berdine, the district’s treasurer, who is set to resign at the end of the month.
Patterson said he’ll work with the district’s new treasurer, Timothy Penton, to examine other options to close the potential budget gap should no schools be shuttered.
“Everything’s on the table,” he said.
At the school board’s annual retreat last month, board member Ed Favre said he’d be open to asking the OSFC for another projection analysis.
“It’d be nice if we could determine where the influx of students is going to be,” Favre added.
Lakewood resident Diane Helbig served on the Phase 3 committee, a volunteer group of citizens tasked with examining potential school closings, said she brought up the idea of keeping all the schools open for this reason.
“When a community upgrades their schools, enrollment goes up,” she said. “People move to communities with new, state-of the-art schools. I was told I was wrong. I was told that enrollment was down and that live births were down at Fairview Hospital. So they missed the whole idea. Now enrollment is up.”
Helbig said she expects the trend to continue.
“When businesses move here, and then employees move here, and you have new schools, families move here,” she said.