NewsLocal NewsCuyahoga County


Parma City Schools new district master plan includes input from taxpayers

Posted at 4:42 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 19:52:34-04

PARMA, Ohio — Parma City Schools could be on its way to constructing all new school buildings.

The district’s board of education approved a new district master plan which would create the largest high school campus in Northeast Ohio.

District officials are hoping that the third time will be the charm for the plan, which is a proposal to get rid of aging school buildings and construct new ones.

Last week, the board approved a 4-2-1 model which includes four elementary schools, two middle schools, and one centrally-located high school. Superintendent Dr. Charles Smialek said it would cost between $423 and $450 million, with 37% potentially reimbursed by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s Expedited Local Partnership Plan. Next, the board has to pass a resolution to participate in the program, and then the OFCC have to review and approve the plan.

“It's going to be a large increase in my taxes and a large increase in everybody's taxes,” said former Parma City Schools board member and parent Mike Johns.

Johns knows what’s at stake if voters approve the district’s new master plan–a bond issue in the 7.5 to 8 mill range on November's ballot which would mean an additional $22 per month for homeowners with properties valued at $100,000.

However, he’s willing to pay because he and other taxpayers got to weigh in on the plan this time.

“It was a much better process. We were not, how should I say, pushed to the curb this time around,” said Johns. “When people were asked their opinions, it seemed that the administration listened.”

Johns voted against a failed bond issue in 2021 that would have seen the district follow a 4-2 model with grades 6-12 in two buildings.There was another failure the year before too. Johns said parents didn’t like the idea, that’s why administrators brought them in on the deal.

“We believe that it's a better plan, honestly. We believe that we used a better process to get to the plan, and we were very specific about educating folks before we really got them to weigh in,” said Smialek.

Smialek said while the price tag is steep, new buildings and consolidating the district’s three high schools into one central location will be good for students.

He's hoping to get the levy on the November ballot, but knows it's a tough time to ask for more money with inflation affecting everyone’s bottom line.

“We've got some difficult variables that we have to weigh. We don't have to decide that now by the time we need to be on the ballot, which would be early August, to really make that decision. We've got some time to see how conditions are shaping up,” said Smialek.

Johns, though, believes time is of the essence and that administrators need to make additional changes and address issues of mistrust to make it worth voters’ while, like consolidating the three high schools now rather than waiting for a vote.

“It is a trust in a system that has refused to consolidate the high schools. But you consolidated grade schools and junior highs and so on and so forth. So that creates a trust issue,” said Johns. “If the school system ignores the consolidation prior to the levy passing, it's going to be very hard to tell the parents, ‘Well, we're going to spend an extra $3 or $4 million every year just to keep two extra schools open, which doesn't make any sense.”

Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.

You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We're also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.