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Architects Propose 2 CH-UH School Design Ideas

Plans would close about a half a dozen schools

Architects Propose 2 CH-UH School Design Ideas

Architects working on a facilities master plan for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District presented two construction proposals at a meeting Wednesday night that would close about a half a dozen schools.

In “Design Idea A,” remains a high school, and pre-kindergarten through eighth grade campuses are created at , and .

In “Design Idea B,” Heights High remains a high school, K-8 campuses are created at Roxboro and Wiley and PK-3 programs exist at , and Coventry.

The two options were narrowed down from nine original plans.

In both proposals, the would move to the (the former Taylor Road Academy), and the options center would move to .

Option A keeps approximately 820,000 square feet of the more than 1.5 million the district has now and would cost $200 million to $206 million create. Option B at 848,422 square feet would cost $210 million to $215 million. Both assume the enrollment of about 6,000 students will remain steady and planning and construction would take three to five years.

Much of it would be paid for with a bond, which could be presented to voters as early as this year’s November election.

Superintendent Douglas Heuer said a bond could pay for up to $160 million of it legally, but that would be approximately 5 mills or more, and he wants to ask residents for "significantly less."

Idea A would save the district $1.1 million to $1.4 million annually in utility costs, and $5 million to $6.9 million per year in operational costs, though they did not provide specifics about staffing cuts with the new plan.

Idea B would save the district about the same amount in utility costs and $4.3 million to $6.3 million in operational costs.

The architecture firms working on the plans and cost estimates — Minneapolis-based , Fanning Howey of Dublin, OH, and local firms studioTECHNE and Regency Construction — provided specific changes that would be made to Heights High, and will provide more details about the other sites at the next meeting March 21.

The original core of Heights High, built in 1925, would be preserved, and the old additions would be demolished. With the science wing removed, the front that faces Cedar Road would serve as the main entrance.

The plans call for new additions, a bus loop in the front and “learning community” classrooms that provide space for lecture, big group meetings, small group work and individual work in one large room. This set up would better personalize and differentiate students' educations, and help teachers implement best practices that they are already utilizing now.

Pilots of the learning community classrooms in an elementary, middle and high school could be ready as early as this fall. The architects emphasized that this is not the open classroom model seen at schools like Boulevard and .

Residents said they were concerned that a natatorium or athletic fields were not included in the high school design.

But the other huge piece of the facilities plan is how the district plans to reuse the closed schools. One idea is to build athletic facilities at the closed sites. Other sites could become health and wellness centers, art institutions, community gardens and more.

The Heights High Social Room was packed Wednesday night and residents asked several questions at the end of the three-hour meeting. Look for more highlights from the meeting soon.

For more background about what prompted the district to renovate its schools,

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An earlier version of this article indicated in Design Idea B that there would be PK programs at Wiley and Roxboro. The PK programs would only be at Oxford, Canterbury and Coventry.

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