THE CAMPAIGN FOR A NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
During his initial presentation about Steel Valley Stronger, Superintendent Edward Wehrer noted that the mission of the Steel Valley School District is to ensure, "All of our people are healthy and thriving, which means that we have healthy and thriving schools. The vision for the district is that, by 2025, all of our students learn together in a new elementary school building.
How do justify two elementary schools with such stark racial, socioeconomic and performance differences in a district of roughly four square miles? The age of the buildings is showing.
The district tapped Draw Collective - formerly VEBH Architects - to conduct a feasibility study for a new K-4 elementary school on the Campbell Campus. The feasibility study means any plan for an elementary school is just theoretical at this stage. Such a plan will require approval by the school board and will include further engagement with the entire Steel Valley community before it is approved. However, should a plan for a new elementary school be approved and move forward, it would provide all of our K-4 learners with a state-of-the-art educational environment. It would include a two-story library and media center, STEAM/innovation centers, small-group instructional areas, and other common, necessary elements that are difficult to wedge into our existing buildings.
By centralizing the campus in this theoretical proposal, all K-12 students would be able to learn together in neighboring buildings. The theoretical plan could also include transportation for students in grades K-8, and it would be undoubtable proof of Steel Valley's investment in the futures of our community and our families.
Please see below for just one example of a hypothetical design and placement of a new elementary building.
If the district were to move forward with a plan like this, what would happen to the existing buildings? Franklin would likely need to be torn down or renovated as part of the new construction project. Barrett would be converted for central office functions and non-traditional learning. Classrooms in the main building would be rented to Pre-K programs and classrooms in the Campbell addition would provide healthcare services for students, families and the community. Park would be demolished, with the land used for development or sold for renovation into housing. The building would not be left vacant.
Costs are the primary factor for any proposed project. Early estimates for construction of a new building would run at approximately $32 million for the school and an additional $500,000 per year for transportation. Some of the financing could come from borrowing (we continue to pay for the high school), a capital fundraising campaign. new development in the district (every $10 million in real estate value provides $250,000 in tax revenue for the district), student recruitment from charter schools (every charter school student who lives in our district costs us an average of $20,000 per year), and staff attrition through retirements.
Those numbers are theoretical. If any construction plan moves forward and is approved by the district, the financial outlook will be updated to reflect the more precise information.