CH-UH School Board approves Facilities Bond Issue for November ballot

June 18, 2013
Cleveland Heights, OH

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday evening to place a bond issue on the November 5, 2013 ballot.  The issue will fund the first phase of the comprehensive facilities plan created by the community-led Lay Facilities Committee. The facilities plan will completely renovate and update Cleveland Heights High School, and Monticello and Roxboro Middle Schools. 

“Our community has come together and worked very hard for more than three years to create a facilities plan that will mean improved educational spaces, lower costs, increased community access, and the protection of our community assets,” said Board president Ron Register.  “This plan accomplished all these goals at the lowest possible cost. It is an opportunity that this community can’t afford to pass up.” 

At the same meeting, the Board of Education recognized Citizens for Heights Schools as the community-led group that will conduct a campaign in support of the facilities issue. The District does not and cannot contribute or participate in that campaign. 

“Some of our school buildings are nearly 100 years old.  They have moved beyond the expensive band aid fixes,” said Board vice president Nancy Peppler. “Our teachers and students are doing a great job in spite of these buildings. A community supported bond issue will renovate and enhance our high school and middle schools, and create educational spaces with up-to-date technology that prepares our students to compete in tomorrow’s world. Currently, none of the District’s science labs meet basic state standards.  This issue will replace our substandard spaces with up-to-date science classrooms and labs.” 

This phased plan would begin with a complete renovation of Cleveland Heights High School and major renovations to Monticello and Roxboro Middle Schools. The first phase would take an estimated five years to complete. Wiley Middle School would be used as swing space during both phases of the process. 

“The proposed changes to our buildings will better align our environment with our mission by creating stimulating spaces to facilitate, inspire, and invigorate high quality teaching and learning. And by streamlining operations, we are creating a more fiscally sustainable and efficient delivery system, thus enabling the communities dollars to be focused where they are most important; on engaging our students and maximizing opportunities for student success,” stated Board member Kal Zucker.

If the facilities issue passes, the renovated high school and middle schools will be energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Each building will be enhanced with new and stronger safety and security measures, and each will have modern libraries and improved teaching technology. Historic sections of each building will be protected, and the high school will have a new competition-quality swimming pool that will be open to the community’s use.

 “This issue is our best chance to protect the investments we have all made in our communities,” said Board member Eric Coble. “Renovated facilities – especially our high school – will keep and attract residents and businesses, keeping Cleveland Heights and University Heights strong, and will last another 50-100 years. Moreover, our schools have earned our support: test scores have gone up each of the last four years, and the high school and two middle schools have been rated Effective by the state.  Our District also continues to seek ways to operate our schools as efficiently as possible without hurting classroom education, including cuts of more than $3.5 million just this year.” 

The total cost of Phase 1 is projected to be $157 million. The majority of the funding would be raised through a $134.8 million dollar bond issue that would be placed on the ballot this November. The rest of the funding would come from a combination of a loan and private donations.

“Now is the time to take advantage of this opportunity – our options only diminish if we wait,” said Board member Karen Jones.  “Our schools will continue to deteriorate and cost more and more to maintain and operate. Maybe even more importantly, if this issue fails, we will lose out on millions of dollars in potential funding, and it will be many years before the District will be able to pursue a similar comprehensive facilities issue.”