PARMA, Ohio — It’s still a bit of an adjustment for teachers and staff from St. Anthony of Padua School in Parma. After spending several months in nearby St. Bridget School, school leaders told News 5 the relocation will continue for the upcoming school year as well.
Back in February, Parma firefighters responded to St. Anthony of Padua K-8 School for a fire reported in the building's basement. A maintenance worker discovered the fire and called 911, however the unoccupied building quickly filled with smoke and damage throughout.
That forced the more than 200 students, teachers and staff to relocate to the recently-closed St. Bridget School in Parma.
“These last two-and-a-half three years feel like they have aged me ten years,” said principal Patrick Klimkewicz. “It’s been a challenge. There’s still a sense of being displaced. so to be back on our home campus is what we all look forward to.”
Klimkewicz told News 5 the school is taking advantage of its empty building by not just restoring it, but also making millions of dollars worth of improvements such as a new roof, new layout and new security and safety measures.
“I would say a third of the building is completely gutted,” Klimkewicz added. “It is quite massive; everything from HVAC, electrical, lighting and ceiling. Getting rid of chalkboard and putting in dry erase boards and looking at all those things.”
As for the fire, investigators determined it was intentionally set, however questions remain over who is behind this arson.
“We’ve kind of run into a roadblock here and stopped getting tips from the public,” said Lieutenant Dan Ciryak with Parma Police. “We don’t have any eyewitnesses, we don’t have any surveillance video, although somebody does know something, somebody obviously knows who is responsible. That’s what we’re looking for: that tip to break the case open.”
If you have any information about the fire and those responsible, you’re asked to call Parma Police’s anonymous tip line at 440-887-7340. A reward is available to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.
School leaders told News 5 that with all the renovations and improvements planned, the goal is to be back in St. Anthony of Padua School in time for the start of the 2023-2024 school year.