Letters to the Editor
Don’t demolish schools, renovate them

To the Editor: (Plain Press, November 2007) What's the deal with Dr. Eugene Sanders now? After realizing the district is going to fall horribly short in its building master plan budget, he has just released an updated plan highlighting 23 school replacements of buildings that originally were planned to be renovated or have additions placed upon them.

Has this administrator even seen the results of the studies by the Cleveland Restoration Society that explain in detail the cost savings of renovating existing buildings as opposed to demolition, disposal and construction of new facilities?  

How then can he in good faith go back to the people of Cleveland and ask for more money to fund his new updated master plan when he refuses to consider an option to save millions and millions of dollars he has already had to work with?  In the original plan, these 23 buildings qualified for renovation, but now magically they all need replacement?  Something about it just does not sound right.

This coming from a C.E.O. that has already stated to those fighting to save their neighborhood schools that if they refused to go along with his plan for them, he would simply let their schools "die on the vine."

Most of the schools on the new "replacement" list have already been improved by the Warm, Safe and Dry program and need very little other improvements to be superior environments for education.

Most may need features such as updated windows, entry doors and some technological updates, but the buildings themselves are structurally and aesthetically sound and could benefit from sprucing up and a new coat of paint inside. Renovating these buildings is the most sane option in a financially strapped district that says it's committed to "saving construction dollars wherever possible"

Riverside School was completely rebuilt at a total cost around 10 million dollars. Since it's opening, it has been plagued with leaks in the roof and some foundation issues. I do not want to think of the condition of these replacement schools in ten to twenty years.

Not every CMSD building can be saved, but many, many could be. We have wonderful buildings with history and character. Even in cases where they have been somewhat neglected due to budget restrictions over the years, they proudly stand in our neighborhoods, some more than eighty years strong. With a bit of T.L.C. and a fraction of the projected cost, they could easily serve our community for another 100 years.

When did common sense go out the window?  Administrators need to be held accountable for how they spend our tax money and have a flexible, open mind of how to progress forward with what we have already given them.

After all, when we come up short in our own lives, we cannot go and demand more money from our employers to make ends meet.  We need to get "creative".  It's time for CMSD to get creative with a plan that has been placed right in front of their faces. We cannot afford to ignore this option. Neither can Dr. Sanders.  

Brian Heaton


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