Garrettsville – The James A. Garfield Schools was recently awarded $5 million through a state grant to create a “Campus of Excellence”. The project will be funded 100% by grant dollars that would never have to be paid back. The project includes constructing a nearly 20,000 square foot addition to the elementary school in order to bring the fifth and sixth grade students onto the district campus. Grant dollars would also supply each student in grades 7-12 with a laptop and access to updated digital resources and online courses.
Garfield’s application was one of only 24 selected from over 600 proposals submitted from across the state.
“There was tremendous competition to receive a Straight A grant,” said Dr. Richard A. Ross, superintendent of public instruction. “All of Ohio will look to the winning proposals for ideas to reduce costs and transform learning in our state.”
The approved project will expand instructional time for students by eliminating the need for shuttle buses and allow for more efficient use of staff. By consolidating to a campus the schools will realize annual savings of more than $310,000. Even after reinvesting dollars into classroom technology for students and teachers the district would reduce operational costs by more than $250,000 annually, lessening the burden on local taxpayers.
Construction on the addition is scheduled to be completed in time for the start of the 2014-15 school year.
I would like to make it very clear that we do not want to close Garfield Intermediate School. The Intermediate School is a beautiful building with a tremendous history and closing it would be the very last option we pursue.
We are actively pursuing partnerships to try and bring services to our community through the current Park Avenue school. We continue to meet with the Greater Cleveland Area YMCA and the Portage County Educational Service Center about utilizing the building and are investigating other entities that could use the space.
We have created a frequently asked questions page on our website (http://garfield.sparcc.org) and will continue to gather input from the community prior to contracting with an architect.
This is just the beginning. Our district is on the precipice of making some major strides for our kids and our community. We are all excited about the grant, and I am equally excited about a group of individuals spearheading a long-range fundraising campaign to make significant upgrades to our athletic facilities. The community will see some of these improvements as early as this spring.
It is very clear that residents of Freedom, Garrettsville, Hiram and Nelson have a great deal to be proud of as members of the James A. Garfield School Community.