On Monday, February 1, at 7 p.m., at the High School Performing Arts Center, residents are encouraged to attend a meeting hosted by the North Royalton City Schools’ Community Engagement Task Force, where they will unveil their recommendations regarding the facilities of the District. Childcare will be provided by North Royalton High School students.
The Task Force members have continued to meet and discuss the input received from the community through a number of coffees that were held last fall. The group took this information to begin mapping out potential options to address the district’s needs regarding their facilities. That information has now become the recommended plan that has been presented to the North Royalton Board of Education and City School Administrators, and now, the overall community.
The coffees were held on the heels of a community survey, which took place last spring. The survey was one of the strategies the group had formulated to gain insight into the district’s facilities and input from the community on how to address the needs of those facilities. The group toured all of the district’s buildings earlier in the year to get an understanding of the needs. It then surveyed the teaching and non-teaching staff before releasing another survey to the community.
Task Force Chairperson Vince Weimer had stated that “it was clear from our conversations that the community is interested in either updating our current facilities or building new school buildings. Once we obtained numbers for both, the committee is moving in the direction to propose building new elementary schools, as well as portions of the high school. It does not make sense financially to simply renovate. The main findings of our Task Force members is that a basic renovation of the three elementary buildings (not including any additional 21st century learning space) would be more costly than new construction.”
According to school officials, “based on the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) report to the district, renovation of Albion Elementary would be $10.46 million. To build a new school, based on square footage similar to the current building, the cost would be approximately $11 million. This would be the case with the other two buildings roughly in the same condition with the same estimates. “When looking at numbers like this to build new vs. renovate existing structures, the committee must consider its options in building new.” The committee then began to discuss the educational benefits of building one, two, or three elementary buildings. Their findings discovered that building one school that would be home to preschool through fourth grade can cost approximately $32.2 million. Two elementary buildings can cost approximately $36.1 million. If the district builds three new elementary buildings, that can cost approximately $39.6 million.” Also discussed, was the North Royalton High School. First suggestions include renovating the 1976 and 1988 additions, tearing down and building a new structure for the rest of the school building. “This option was discussed because once again, when weighing the cost of renovating vs. new, it makes more sense economically to build new,” said Weimer.
“We can’t emphasize enough that these numbers or initial thoughts are not set in stone,” Weimer said. “They are rough estimates based on square footage and can increase or decrease depending on a variety of circumstances and the plan that we propose.” He also noted that it was important to include a maintenance program into the plan. “Implementing on-going permanent improvement dollars to maintain our investment is critical,” he said.
“The conversation, discussion and feedback that was gained has been of great value as the Community Engagement Task Force has moved forward,” said North Royalton School Superintendent, Greg Gurka. “As we spoke about during the coffee process, once the committee developed their report, a community meeting would be held to disseminate the information and gather more feedback from the community. It is imperative that the community turns out to not only hear the report, but to offer feedback.” After the presentation, residents will be asked to split up into tables to further discuss the matter and offer feedback. “What I ask of you is to make every attempt to clear your calendar and plan to attend the February 1, 2016 meeting. The more input and feedback we get, the better the plan will be to address the needs of the schools and the community.”

Contributing Writer