by Melissa Martin
Dec. 14 school board meeting
Superintendent Joelle Magyar said the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District is not on track to see a substantial growth in student enrollment over the next five years despite a recent uptick in students enrolled at the elementary school-level.
That conclusion, Magyar said, was supported by an independent study the district performed in recent weeks after the number of students attending district schools increased by more than 200 students this fall.
Prior to this study, the last time the district evaluated enrollment projections was in 2017 before voters approved the levy funding used to build the new Brecksville-Broadview Heights Elementary School. Two additional studies had been conducted in 2013 and 2015 as well, she noted.
“There is a slight jump [in student enrollment figures] predicted for 2027, due to all the marriages, weddings and births postponed these past two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said of projections in most recent enrollment study. “But while there may have been an uptick in students [this school year], we are not projecting for any significant growth in the community.”
Magyar and the school board elected to launch the latest study this fall after the district’s elementary school enrollment increased by more than 200 students, with another 35 students enrolling in the days following the school’s opening Sept. 6. She said her office fielded several questions regarding the size of the new elementary school and whether it was built large enough to adequately account for future growth.
By all indications, the building size will be sufficient to handle the community’s population for the foreseeable future, said school board President Mark Dosen.
“We right-sized the capacity of the buildings in our district as part of consolidating the elementary schools,” he said. “From a district standpoint, we have plenty of capacity across all our buildings – some more than others. … If we need to shift grades from one building to another for a few years, we have the ability to do that.”
Magyar said the district will continue to track enrollment and will be looking at figures closely throughout the kindergarten registration process this year, noting that the elementary school currently houses approximately 1,700 of the district’s 3,774 students.
“We should have a better grasp by March as to whether we’re going to see another increase in students next year too,” she said.
Plans for Hilton Elementary
School board members say the administration will begin to explore the costs associated with demolishing the former Hilton Elementary School building after the administration has been unable to determine an alternative purpose for the building.
Magyar told the board the district has spent the past several months looking for viable plans for the buildings but has come up emptyhanded.
“We looked at trends here and in surrounding communities, and the one thing we realized is that there are preschool-age children coming out of the woodwork,” she said. “If the district wanted to renovate the building and make it a preschool, we and several other communities could definitely use the space.”
Magyar said that while transforming the building into a preschool would develop a long-term revenue stream for the district, the costs associated with renovating the space would likely be significant without a dedicated funding source.
“At the end of the day, we still have a very old building that needs a lot of work,” he said, noting that the district is currently paying to upkeep the building in terms of water and heat.
Treasurer Craig Yaniglos said the district would likely have to spend several million dollars to upgrade the building before it could be used for another purpose.
“Is there a need for it? Yes,” he said. “Financially, probably not.”
Yaniglos said demolition costs were estimated at approximately $300,000 when the district explored the possibility prior to the construction of the elementary school. Those costs, he said, are likely between $600,000 and $700,000 in 2023.
While board members expressed an interest in demolishing the building before the end of the school year, members of the administration said those plans would likely be extended to this summer as the district is currently using the building as a storage area for the three schools. Those items, Magyar said, have to be relocated prior to knocking down Hilton.
Yaniglos said it would likely take several months to bid out the demolition, but school board members encouraged the district to take action sooner rather than later.
“I would think the quicker we do this would be to our advantage since we are paying maintenance costs on the building,” Dosen said.
Should the demolition be approved, it would likely take place sometime over the summer, Yaniglos said.
The district plans to retain the property. ∞