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Canton Board of Education advances plan for new elementary schools, delays high school project

Canton City School District's logo.
Canton City School District
The Canton City School District Board of Education voted Monday to move forward with seeking a levy in the spring to build two new elementary schools as part of a major facilities reconfiguration plan. The district is also putting plans to move McKinley High School on hold.

The Canton City School District Board of Education voted Monday to move forward with seeking a levy in the spring to build two new elementary schools as part of a major facilities reconfiguration plan.

The district is also putting plans to move McKinley High School from its current location at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village on hold due to how expensive the project has become, with cost estimates rising to roughly $80 million or more recently.

Superintendent Jeff Talbert says the new elementary schools are “greatly needed.” The total price tag for new buildings at the Souers and Mason schools is about $60 million, but will only require voters to approve continuing a previous levy with a small increase. It’ll amount to an extra $4 more per $100,000 of property valuation per year.

The new kindergarten-through-sixth grade buildings on the Souers and Mason sites will be coupled with the district taking several other measures to compensate for declining enrollment. The Canton Repository reported recently that Fairmount, Stone, Schreiber, Baxter and Dueber schools, as well as the district’s business service center, will no longer be used and will be sold off or demolished.

Talbert says the district is still committed to moving McKinley High School. Multiple board members said the current location at the Hall of Fame Village is not ideal.

“That location is no longer feasible for a high school,” Board Member Eric Reznick said. “You know, you pull up, and all you can see is the Ferris wheel and a zip-line.”

Talbert said more time and exploration is needed to figure out how to fund the high school construction.

“We need a little more time to further explore other revenue streams to to help us with funding the high school,” he said. “The high school price tag of $80 million puts a large burden, a larger burden than we initially thought would be on our taxpayers.”

Board members said the building reconfiguration is a net positive: it reduces the number of times students must transition to a new school, and will save money down the road by getting rid of older buildings that require expensive updates.

“Shrinking our footprint is a huge investment into the city and to our community so that our dollars are going to impact kids not purchasing boilers and roofs,” Board President John M. Rinaldi said.

Conor Morris covers education in Northeast Ohio.