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Replacing Two Schools with One Draws Praise and Criticism

The Lorain district has money to build ONE new high school, but school superintendent Cheryl Atkinson says Ohio Facilities Commission mandates don't permit repairs to either existing Southview or Admiral King High Schools, because of their age and conditions.

The district is targeting the Broadway Avenue area, to centralize the high school, spur redevelopment, allow for the addition of a new Lorain city library branch, and space for Lorain County Community college to offer classes. The library and the college both support the idea.

"It's going to be somewhere between $5-8 million dollars less to build one, as opposed to building two; and we currently have enough dollars set aside where we'd be able to build one, and save money."

Atkinson hopes additional costs for a new campus, estimated at about $150 million, could be covered by federal stimulus dollars.

Public responses to the possibility of one new mega-school have ranged from glowing - to outrage.
Some laud the proposal as visionary and overdue.

But some parents argued by letter, or to the local newspaper, their preferences for keeping two schools, regardless of the cost. Reasons include the location of the new facility, and the loss of academic and sports rivalries between Southview and Admiral King. And at least one angry parent wrote he would pull his child out of the system rather than let him attend school with kids from the other side of town.

The school board meets Wednesday evening - but has not confirmed whether the topic will be on its agenda.

Rick Jackson is a senior host and producer at Ideastream Public Media. He hosts the "Sound of Ideas" on WKSU and "NewsDepth" on WVIZ.