Question: Why are our elementary buildings in such poor shape?
Answer: First, it is important to understand the age of our buildings. Greentown and the Portage building, which was built as Central High School and became No-Ca-Hi, were both built in the 1920s. In the 1950s, the school district-built Orchard Hill and Clearmount. Northwood was built in 1971. So, we have two buildings over 90 years old, two buildings 60 years old, and our newest building is 48 years old.
Secondly, not only do most North Canton residents live in homes significantly newer than our school buildings, so are most buildings in Stark County school districts. Currently, North Canton City Schools is only one of three school districts that has not built a new school building in the last 20 years. (Marlington and Perry are the other two. Perry also has a bond issue on the March ballot.)
Thirdly, many districts in Stark County have used millions of dollars in state funding, which is now available to us to demolish and replace all or most of their school buildings in the last 15-20 years. Here is a list of those districts: Northwest, Tuslaw, East Canton, Louisville, Lake, Canton City, Sandy Valley, and Minerva. Canton Local, Jackson, and Plain Local used all local taxpayer funding to construct their new schools.
Fourthly, while some community members may question the condition of our buildings, we are proud to say that our buildings have outlasted most of the school buildings in Stark County. Now it is a question of spending our dollars on old buildings that need constant upkeep for heating, cooling, and plumbing repair or replacement. Because of their age, these five buildings, which are over 222,000 square feet, demand a large portion of our district’s budget, money that could be better used supporting students in the classroom. New buildings under this plan using state funding would be required to be built to the standards of LEED Silver certification. Other districts that have gone through this process have seen their operating costs reduced approximately 25% for electricity and natural gas.
Finally, and certainly most importantly, these school buildings were constructed to educate students for a world that no longer exists. In the first half of the 1900s, a large portion of a school’s graduates were headed off to work in manufacturing and a good portion of that was assembly line work. Now, we must prepare students to work in an information society. Many will work in job fields that do not exist today.