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$57M plan unveiled

Caitlin Nearhood • Jun 2, 2014 at 6:19 PM

The future of Sandusky Schools shines bright.

The district’s Senior Leadership Team announced Wednesday two new elementary schools will be built in the near future.

The schools will stand at the old Memorial Hospital’s location, land the district already owns thanks to the Dorn Foundation. Dr. Eugene Sanders, the district’s superintendent and CEO, presided over the meeting, which drew a few dozen people to the Sandusky High cafeteria.    One elementary school will house preschool through third grade, while the other will house fourth through sixth grades.

Of the 10 plans the team drafted, the group had difficulty deciding which one to recommend and use.

All team members agreed the high school needed to be renovated, and they discussed how to balance the high school’s needs with the elementary schools’ needs.

Every time the high school came into play, however, the cost of renovation topped $73 million.

“We had to divorce ourselves from our hearts to decide what is best for the students, families, and citizens of Sandusky, Ohio,” Sanders said, in reference to leaving out renovation plans for the entire high school.

Instead, the focus will be to upgrade the science labs and to help guide the STEAM initiative — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics — that will be implemented in future curriculum.

“If we don’t take a position in educating in STEAM, we aren’t doing our job,” Sanders said, explaining the new curriculum’simportance.

The cost of the new elementary schools is $57 million, but the district won’t pay the whole bill. Fifty-four percent of the project will be co-funded by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission.

The team wanted to make sure the levy for November was below 5 mills in the best interest of people in the district. The proposed millage is 3.94 mills, so taxpayers would pay about 35 cents a day for the upcoming project.

Sanders also discussed using PALFIs — Project Agreement Locally Funded Initiatives — to go toward preschool education and the STEAM renovation. A total of $6.5 million will go toward these plans.

“It’s the essential vision of Sandusky City Schools,” Sanders said of the funding preschool education. “We must invest in children’s education at the earliest age. We want to build a solid foundation for better dreams”

Preschool is offered to anyone who wants it.

Additionally, the team wants to begin Blue Streak University, an opportunity for high school students to gain college credits beginning their sophomore year. Students would declare a major area of study that can be changed with their interests. The overall goal would be for each student to graduate with both a high school diploma and an associates degree.

No matter what happens, change is for certain.

“This is an exciting time in Sandusky City Schools,” board president Thomas Patterson stated in a release. “Not only have we started with an educational vision and a detailed academic plan, but we believe this building effort comes at a pivotal time as we move ahead to re-establish the structural foundation for generations to come”

On May 6, 70 percent of voters approved Issue 3, a levy for the district to move forward with its transformation plan.

At the end of the meeting, audience members viewed a short video that showcased students and staff members at various events and activities and relayed the need for better facilities through interviews about the condition of the schools.

“This is a transformative moment in the history of the district” Sanders said.

The district has placed a bond issue on the Nov. 4 ballot to take care of Sandusky Schools’ portion of the cost of the facilities plan. More meetings are planned before the November election.

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