by Melissa Martin
A school system that educates children who have learning disabilities that range from autism and anxiety to dyslexia, is expected to open the first phase of a new Brecksville campus in the fall of 2024 after purchasing the former Chippewa Elementary School site for $1.3 million.
The Wiese Road property was sold to Julie Billiart Schools on Sept. 28 for $1.3 million as part of a contractual agreement between the city of Brecksville and the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City Schools. As part of that agreement, the city agreed to market the Chippewa and Highland elementary school properties to prospective buyers in an attempt to ensure the school sites remain harmonious with surrounding properties following their sale.
The school district set the minimum sale price for the Chippewa property at $1.1 million. The agreement with Julie Billiart Schools is expected to be finalized by the end of November.
Both Chippewa and Highland elementary schools, along with Hilton Elementary, were permanently closed this past summer following the opening of the school district’s new consolidated elementary school.
Superintendent Joelle Magyar said that once the sale closes, the funds will be deposited into the district’s permanent-improvement fund. Those funds will then be used for capital or permanent improvement upgrades throughout the district.
The Sisters of Notre Dame, a worldwide group of Roman Catholic nuns, opened the first Julie Billiart School in Lyndhurst in 1954. The school system was named after a teacher who taught the Catholic faith to children in 18th- and 19th-century France.
The Brecksville location will be Julie Billiart’s fourth location after opening an Akron campus in 2017 and a Westlake campus in 2021.
Students in Julie Billiart Schools represent more than 40 Northeast Ohio school districts, and all teachers are certified intervention specialists. The school assigns two teachers to each classroom, with student-teacher ratios set at 6:1 in primary classrooms and at 8:1 in grades three through eight.
Julie Billiart also has a team of behavior analysts, as well as speech, occupational, art and music therapists, to assist its students.
Julie Billiart Schools will spend the next 18 months planning for the new school. Lannie Davis-Frecker, president and CEO of Julie Billiart Schools, said the building will be open to students in kindergarten through fourth grade in 2024. The opening of the second phase, which includes grades five through eight, will be delayed until the fall of 2025.
Prior to opening, Davis-Frecker said the school system is planning to maintain Chippewa Elementary’s existing footprint but will make a few minor upgrades. Among those additions are interactive display boards, resource rooms, sensory-friendly lighting, neutral-colored paint, flexible seating and more.