NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — On Wednesday night, school board members in North Olmsted will vote on a plan to close two of its primary schools due to declining enrollment and pricey building repairs.
Superintendent Dave Brand said the closures have been up for discussion for the past five years.
"But when COVID happened, they took a pause, right? So we could spread out more, which is really smart," he said. "But it's time now to get back on track with that plan and to move forward."
Brand said the North Olmsted City School district has recorded a decline in enrollment for more than a decade. The superintendent said some buildings within the district are only utilizing 50-60% of their capacities.
Another factor impacting the closures is building repairs.
"We have some pretty serious concerns and issues with our elementary facilities," he said. "About $60 million in known repairs."
The plan calls for the district to close Forest and Spruce Primary Schools and to reconfigure Burch Primary, Chestnut, Maple and Pine Intermediate Schools.
Brand said the close and combine plan will not increase class size and will allow the district to provide additional educational benefits.
"One of the exciting things about this consolidation plan with the reconfiguration is that all of our kindergartners will be together. All of our fourth and fifth graders will be together. And so they will have all of their friends from their current schools, plus the rest of their fourth and fifth-grade peers and fellow North Olmstead eagles," Brand said. "We'll be able to have a school counselor in each building. We'll be able to have an English language learner teacher in each building and there are a few other benefits. I think the community and the parents will see from it."
The district is predicting the closures to save about $800,000 in operating costs.
However, Brand called the plan a short-term solution.
"We do need a long-term solution," he said. "And so we need to continue to work on a long term solution for our elementary school, for our facilities and for our finances for the district."
The school board is set to vote on the plan at Wednesday night's meeting. It is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Community members and parents can watch the meeting live on the district's YouTube page or attend in person.