PARMA, Ohio — The Parma City School District is encouraging students and alumni to speak out and share the best ways to honor three local schools ahead of their closures at the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
It's all part of a series of community meetings, with the first to be held Tuesday evening at Parma Senior High School.
"We are trying to make sure that we're going to honor the past as much as possible," said Charlie Smialek, Superintendent of Parma City Schools.
There has been widespread reaction after the board voted to shut down Parma Senior High School, Parma Park Elementary and Renwood Elementary.
The school board voted in early June to close the schools at the end of next year in an effort to bridge a looming $24 million budget deficit.
Parma parents told News 5 they are extremely concerned about the consolidation plan and impact on current and future students.
“That’ll be cool, but a lot of kids-- too much crap going on," said Gillian Marsi, a Parma Senior High graduate.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea because I just feel like It’s gonna be too many kids in each classroom," said Summer Jenkins, a Parma Senior High graduate and parent.
Taking notice—district leaders want residents to help honor the past for Parma Senior High, Parma Park Elementary, and Renwood Elementary and move forward in the best fashion possible.
Smialek says the feelings of anger over the consolidation have now shifted in a positive direction to that of nostalgia.
He says many folks want to make this final year special and impactful.
"You know, folks have a lot of pride and a lot of memories. And so how do we--how do we honor that in this this last year of operation for these three schools?"
Tuesday night's meeting will specifically focus on how to honor Parma Senior High’s legacy and share plans about the best ways to celebrate the school before it no longer exists.
It’s something Jenkins commends.
“That would be nice to have just one big get-together with everyone, a celebration, and maybe have a game there.”
Smialek says they've already received several e-mails, phone calls, and messages about students and alumni wanting to re-visit the space, sit in their classrooms one final time and even get a piece of the leveled buildings once demolition is completed next summer.
Walking tours are also in the very early planning stages for the three schools.
Smialek also told News 5 they are working to preserve the iconic clock tower at Parma Senior High along with the Hall of Fame.
"We want to be as empathetic to folks that-- that feel connection as possible and really honor and celebrate the memories they have," said Smialek.
Closing the three schools will save the district more than $3 million in operating expenses.
The community meeting is set for 6 p.m. at the Red Rees room at Parma Senior High.
A second meeting is planned for July 26.