Tests delay vote on Scott High oversight committeeWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessup W. Scott High School alumni and Save our Scott advocates will have to wait another month before Toledo Public Schools (TPS) Board members decide whether or not to authorize the oversight committee that alumni have sought for years.
Crews from environmental research groups Toledo Testing Laboratories and TolTest Inc. have entered Scott High School to survey the nearly 100 year-old building for harmful materials, such as asbestos before demolition and construction can begin, said John Gilliland, business manager for TPS.
Advocates at an Aug. 11 Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OFSC) meeting argued they needed to initiate the oversight committee as soon as possible because workers are already in the building and advocates and alumni want their input heard.
“My understanding is that the oversight committee won’t be put into place right now, even though Scott is in the assessment phase. They need oversight now,” said Twila Page, secretary for the African Americans Parents Association. “It would be very important now rather than sometime in September because the community doesn’t believe this is ever going to happen.”
Lisa Sobecki, vice president of the TPS board of education, and chair of OFSC board meetings, said she plans to draft a “respectable resolution” that would reach a compromise between alumni requests and board members and construction managers’ needs.
She didn’t pass a resolution to create an oversight committee at the Aug. 11 meeting because she said she wanted to continue to talk with the Scott High alumni association president Robert Davis about the proposed committee. She said she also wanted to give the newest board member, Brenda Hill, who was appointed on June 20, time to think about information presented to her.
“There are a number of items in [the proposal] that we could agree upon doing,” Sobecki said, adding that some requests won’t be feasible.
Davis’ oversight committee proposal included a clause that members ought to be allowed to visit the construction site to assure workers are renovating just as planned, but Sobecki said safety laws would make this difficult.
Among other elements, the resolution could grant the oversight committee the ability to review construction steps and serve as a liaison between the public and board members, she said.
“We want to be able to keep up with the expenditures and be able to translate what’s going on here to the community to let everybody know that this is a positive process for the whole city,” Davis said. “There appears to be this distrust and this oversight committee can help mend that.”
With or without the oversight committee, she would make sure the public was alerted if the board had to change any design plans, Sobecki said, adding that all information regarding the high school’s construction is public information.
Scott High School is in “segment five,” near the end of a major project that commenced the building of more than 40 new school buildings. The High School was one of the last projects to receive funding, but is the only one being renovated with state money. The other buildings that received money were built from the ground up, not renovated, Sobecki said.
Page said she and others in the Scott High School Alumni Association doubt that board members will follow through with renovating the high school and Davis attributed the distrust to past school board employees’ decisions.
Gilliland took the accusations personally, he said, adding that advocates should trust him until he gives them a reason not to.
“I don’t know if you’re a betting person, but I’ll bet you the biggest bottle of Coke right now that you’re going to get a renovated Scott High School,” Gilliland told Page. “Our direction is to do everything in that building with the amount of money we have to renovate the best high school we can renovate.”
The district just paid for new science tables at the former DeVilbis High School building that have smaller sinks than the rest of the schools in the district. Rather than moving them into Scott High School after construction ends to save money, he said the board intends to buy new tables for Scott High School. Matching Scott’s tables with other schools’ tables is an example of the boards’ concern for equity, he said.
He also said workers will redo locker rooms and refinish the floor in the field house. Avie Dixon, a retired teacher, said refinishing the floors was unnecessary and she wants the oversight committee so she could help dissuade the board from spending money on such projects and spend it elsewhere in the building.
“We’re last; we’re in segment five. So the question is ‘What are we not going to get?’” Dixon said. “You talk about considering redoing the floor and we have X numbers of dollars; why would you redo the field house floor? Take that money and do something else with it.”
OFSC board members will meet on Sept. 8 at 10 a.m. to address all the schools’ construction progress. Her goal is to pass a resolution that day that will benefit both parties involved.
Tags: Scott High School