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Reporting on the state of education in your community and across the country.

Parma City Schools Promotes Issue 73 For Construction, Consolidation Plans

Right-sizing the district's secondary school buildings would save $1 million per year in operational costs, Parma City Schools Superintendent Charles Smialek said. [Parma City School]
Rendering for new high school campus at Parma City Schools

Parma City School District is asking voters in Parma, Parma Heights and Seven Hills to support Issue 73, which would cover construction costs for the first round of changes in the district’s master plan.

The 6.5 mill bond issue would raise the $300 million needed for the first phase of the school district’s “strategic consolidation” master plan. If Issue 73 passes, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay $18.97 a month in added taxes.

Parma Schools Superintendent Charles Smialek said the district’s "strategic consolidation" plan is a response to the “generational question” of how many secondary schools the district actually needs. By consolidating six secondary school campuses into two under the master plan, the district would save $1 million a year in operational costs, Smialek said.

Phase 1 of the consolidation plan calls for two campuses for grades 6-12 to be built on land where Normandy High School and Valley Forge High Schools currently sit. Those schools would eventually be demolished and each new secondary campus would house both a middle school and a high school building.

“And both of those schools are really the same type of facility. We really want to make sure that we have equity in how we approach it,” Smialek said. “So they both have a pool. They both have a STEM lab, they both have auditoriums. They both have the same gymnasium spaces.”

The building that is now Parma Senior High School would become a combination school district central office and community educational and wellness center.

A second bond issue, to come later, would cover the cost of six new elementary schools.

The ongoing pandemic has made it more difficult for the district to “ask for more money, ” Smialek said, but he expressed optimism that the bond would pass. Explaining exactly what Issue 73 entails to voters helps drum up support for the bond that would provide “21st century schools for our students,” he said.

“Our early polling, when folks actually knew all the entities, including even the costs, [showed they] were likely or very likely to support the issue,” Smialek said.

Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”