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Friday, May 6, 2016

Candidates and residents tour East Side

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Three employees use the East Side Elementary School kitchen to serve 120 breakfasts and 300 lunches to students every day. Melinda Quasius Photo.
A small group of interested citizens, including Clay Community Schools Board of Trustees candidates Barbara Nicoson, Leo Southworth and Holly Neil, toured East Side Elementary School Wednesday afternoon, with Principal Mary Ray and Director of Buildings and Grounds Tom Reberger.

In an effort to demonstrate the need of renovation at the elementary school level, Reberger led the group through classrooms, the kitchen, cafeteria and the media center of the school. He led a similar tour of Meridian Elementary School earlier in the month.

Currently, East Side faces many challenges concerning space.

The school moved from two to three lunch periods to be able to accommodate all of the students. East Side's enrollment is currently near 300 students.

The cafeteria is the size of one-and-a-half classrooms, and the kitchen has no storage.

Food is kept in an outdoor walk-in freezer or in the space converted from the old stage in the gym.

This means gym equipment is stored on moving racks and in the teachers' lounge.

Lack of storage is a common theme in the building. Students keep their coats and cold weather gear in garbage bags hanging from coat racks because there is no divided space for them to keep their belongings.

Chairs used in music class are stored in a hallway and in the computer lab. The audio/visual room and the health room are converted closets.

Classroom space is also at a premium. Along with the outdoor modulars, the speech room and original computer lab have been converted to regular classrooms.

Speech is now held one day a week in the art room, and the computer lab is now adjacent to the library.

The art room was originally in the part of the building where classrooms have bathrooms within the room. In its current location, there is no sink in the art room for cleaning brushes or hands.

Ray and Reberger also pointed out that the gym also doubles as the music room. They described the chaos of having the Christmas program at a nearby church this year.

Kids got ready in the gym, and then were guided across the street to the church to perform. Ray said it is difficult to get the entire student body into the gym, not including staff and parents.

Small renovations have been made to the building since it was built in the 1950s. In the 1980s, the library and three classrooms were added to the building.

In 1991, the corporation did a window replacement and air conditioning was installed in 2001.

Reberger said the current roof was put on in 1986, and is on its last legs. He added that his staff has been patching the roof, and re-roofed part of the gym, but is holding off on completely redoing the entire thing until a firm decision is made on the building project.

Members of the tour group expressed concern over safety and security, especially relating to the proximity to United States 40.

The group also expressed concern about class sizes and the ability of the building to remain functional even after a possible renovation.

Several members of the faculty were on hand during the tour, and were able to explain the multiple functions and purposes of each room.

Reberger said, at the Political Forum held last week, that the tours were intended to answer questions about the two school buildings considered most in need, Meridian and East Side.

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I am interested in knowing what others think of closing Eastside and making Meridian one large school? I think it would be the demise of many families in our town if this happens. Eastside and Meridian are so vital to the families they house.

-- Posted by madmom61 on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 7:31 AM

I am all for keeping the neighborhood friendly schools in place and following through with the renovation project. I think anyone that opposes the project is very selfish and has their own agendas unfortunately prioritized above the best interest of the children. We need these schools to be upgraded to provide the best possible learning environment and to ensure each child's safety. I think that Holly Neil is the only candidate in District 2 that seems to represent the majority of those that feel this same way. Please give her your support on election day. She will do what is best for our children.

-- Posted by cubbiefan on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 8:32 AM

I think it would be a very wise decision to combine Eastside & Meridian Street Schools if it would be more cost efficent to build one new school as opposed to renovating two. Combining the two schools does not have to mean large classes. It may mean MORE classes. Jackson Twp. has become a large school and it's thriving. Under strong leadership, there's no reason why combining the two city schools would be the demise of anyone. If the two schools are combined, then possibly one of the schools could then house the central office. Maybe it wouldn't be large enough, I don't know.

-- Posted by LEEJDC on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 9:09 AM

You dont think it would hurt the families that are depending on the schools to feed their kids and can only get to school by walking? Do you think it would take away from the "home" they have there? Would it help graduation rates to have kids loose that contact with a neighborhood school that housed their parents and that the staff knows all about them? Jackson Township is a GREAT school but it is not as big as one would be by combining Meridian and Eastside. And besides, it is not a neighborhood school, it is a country school!

-- Posted by madmom61 on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 9:40 AM

I am just curious as to what the cost would be to build a large new school as opposed to renovating two schools. I am worried that the cost would eat up the opportunity to fulfill the other renovation needs beyond Meridian and East Side.

-- Posted by cubbiefan on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 10:33 AM

it has already been discussed to the school board and there have been several meetings , I for 1 has attended several of these meetings and there was very few parents there. Now you want to voice your comments. The only way to school is walk? do like everyone else has to make arrangements ( they are your kids) you are not worried that there are several sex offenders in the area . I feel sorry for the teachers , some might even lose their jobs. don't hate on people trying to make 1 big new school.anything is for the better.

-- Posted by Sand mann on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 11:29 AM

The project will already be effected and cuts will need to be made due to the petition that has been filed. It will take more money in the future to do this so things will have to be cut just like they were when Northview was built. Only now instead of not getting a pool and practice gym, we wont have the right security to keep our kids safe. Oh... and adequate classrooms or roofs!

-- Posted by madmom61 on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 11:35 AM

And... I was at the meetings and I did voice my opinions. ANYTHING is not better.

-- Posted by madmom61 on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 11:38 AM

The "anything is better" comment doesn't sound like you got much from the meetings you attended victory04. I too was at those meetings and know that the renovation project was proposed by a professional company who made no mention of the existing school buildings needing replaced. This remonstrance has been nothing more than a sabotage by the few who only think of themselves. I am tired of the so called 'know it alls" spouting forth their useless knowledge and need for fiscal responsibilty. That is a cop out and simply allows for the selfish to keep the little bit of money they keep from paying higher taxes. These children are our future and will be taking care of city one day. Those who filed the remonstrance should be careful for what they wish for.

-- Posted by cubbiefan on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 12:27 PM

Well let me see, u by some of the comments you perfer nothing instead of anything better.And yes the contractors were pros, I would hate for someone other than pros to do the job , yes they are out to make money just the same as if you go to work and want to get paid. Taxes are going to rise weather we like it or not. are you going to stop driving coz' yo dont like the gas prices. i think not.

I have been to the schools , and i'm no expert, but Tearing down instead of remodel is the waste of money putting on a new roof coz it leaks,or tearing the walls down coz the roof leaks.

talking about taxes, my parents don't have children in school but they pay taxes for the school.

cubbiefan,putting a new roof on so our children don't get wet is n't better than nothing maybe you should teach your children outside in the winter.

-- Posted by Sand mann on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 8:46 PM

By the wonderful use of grammar and typing skills you display victory04, I think you spent more time in the rain instead of the classroom. You have to focus on the needs assessment developed by the countless hours of volunteer work done by the school board and other individuals. If we don't take care of each school and give the facility the much needed upgrades, we are simply setting our children up for failure. Teachers need the resources and the security that this renovation project would provide. People of Brazil it is time to put up or shut up. Get behind the people who support the renovation project so we can take care of our children. And remember, if you don't vote, don't gripe.

-- Posted by cubbiefan on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 6:42 AM

"I have been to the schools , and i'm no expert, but Tearing down instead of remodel is the waste of money putting on a new roof coz it leaks,or tearing the walls down coz the roof leaks. "

So I am guessing from what I can make out of this statement that you do not favor building a new school? You want the buidlings fixed not rebuilt? That is what we are trying to say. They are going to be fixed. The remonstrance is filed to keep that from happening

Please educate yourself before you go vote

-- Posted by madmom61 on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 9:10 AM

I think the pros know better than us. Let them do their job. or complain. I'm sure that cubbiefan , you know better than them. bet you go to the dentist and tell them how to fill your tooth.whatever........vote or don't vote that is a choice........

-- Posted by Sand mann on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 7:50 PM

I'm not trying to stir up already rampant emotions, but I don't see the filing of the remonstrance as a means to keep our schools from being updated. I see it as an attempt to allow more time to research the possibility of finding the best possible plan for rennovation/building to keep our schools up to date and safe. I'll be honest with you, I'm not sure enough valid thought has been given to the possibility of redistricting the school boundaries which could lead to the closing of one or more elementary buildings and to the possible construction of a newer, larger building rather than remodeling of outdated buildings. The key word in my sentence is "redistricting". Does anyone responding here actually know the boundary lines for the elementaries? Anyone who believes East Side to be a "neighborhood" school has to be kidding! Well, I guess if one considers Perth, Bee Ridge, and the farmland north and west of Brazil to be in the same neighborhood as Davis Street, then perhaps East Side could be called a neighborhood school.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 9:29 PM


Perhaps you need to visit the school and talk to Mary Ray. It is a neighborhood school.

-- Posted by madmom61 on Mon, Apr 28, 2008, at 7:40 AM


Talk to Mary Ray? You must be kidding! I am completely familiar with East Side Elementary and have been there before on numerous occasions. Also, I am aware of East Side's school district. I also know approximately how many students actually live in the "neighborhood". I don't need to make a visit and talk with Mary Ray. How familiar are you with the school and the principal? Let's get real....Principals will say and do anything to keep the building where they work from being consolidated, and Mary Ray is no different.

What do you use as criteria to quantify a neighborhood school? I read earlier where you stated Jackson Township was not a neighborhood school. You called it a country school. Would that be because it is located in the country? If location is your criteria, then East Side is a city school rather than a neighborhood school, right?

I often wonder when reading your posts if you attended East Side or have children who have. I cannot fathom such support otherwise. It sounds like a case of sentimentality to me. One of my children attended East Side, but my child didn't live in the "neighborhood". Perhaps that's why I'm not seeing eye to eye with you on this. Or perhaps I'm not opposed to looking in to the possibility of changing district lines, especially if it is for the good of the majority of the people.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Mon, Apr 28, 2008, at 8:34 PM

I did not attend school there and neither did my children. I have worked with many of the families that attend that school and know some of the obstacles it takes for them to get to school. How many kids at Jackson walk to school? That is a big difference.

Your remarks about the staff are offensive. I think Mrs Ray would put the needs of the students above her own. And if your children attended school there HOW can you think that school needs to be closed???

-- Posted by madmom61 on Tue, Apr 29, 2008, at 1:06 PM

Oh, madmom61....please reread my pevious posts. Somewhere along the way you have misread/misunderstood my words. Nowhere did I say East Side Elementary needed to be closed. I said I thought the possibility of redistricting, which could result in the closing of a building or two, should be considered.

In addition, nowhere did I make offensive comments about the staff at East Side. I have the utmost respect for the majority of the staff members there! Perhaps you consider Mrs. Ray as the staff? If so, surely you have been around long enough to know that principals are part politicians. One of their jobs is to "sell their school" to the public. Who would want a principal to throw in the towel as if to say, "Close our school, and make it fast!" I know I wouldn't. I would hope the principal had enough dedication to the staff and students to make every attempt to keep the building open. My comment was in response to yours suggesting I visit the school and talk to Mary Ray. Politicians will tell you whatever it takes to get your vote.

Also, please note I did not write that my children attended East Side. I said one of my children did. And, is the fact that one's child attends/attended a school make a valid reason to keep a school open? Some of the best schools in the country are closed due to consolidation as a means to provide children with a better education and/or to make the school system more financially sound. Whether or not consolidation is detrimental to students and how big is too big are controversial issues.

You wrote in your last post that you have worked with many of the families that attended East Side and that you are aware of the obstacles it takes for them to get to school. Well, I have also worked with some of the families there. East Side students and families aren't the only students facing adversity on a daily basis, so that doesn't set them aside from the rest. Unfortunately, there are times when concessions have to be made when it comes to keeping a school corporation running smoothly and within the budget.

In closing, I have this response to your comment that you thought Mrs. Ray would put her students needs above her own. Maybe you work with her in the building on a daily basis, and consequently know her better than most. My only comment is: "Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing." Please don't read too much into my comment. I'm not trying to be offensive.....I just call it like I see it!

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Tue, Apr 29, 2008, at 10:11 PM

I agree to disagree and still find your remarks about Mrs Ray to be tainted. I think her soul is where it should be.

research and vote on Tuesday

-- Posted by madmom61 on Wed, Apr 30, 2008, at 7:55 AM

There is nothing to research as it's a district vote. Plus, I've watched our board in action for many, many years, and nothing is going to make a whole lot of difference. But, you can count on me going to vote as I do every election.

And, I do love the "tainted" adjective choice. I have probably forgotten more about her than most people could ever know. You see, I know her on a personal level as well as a professional one, and I just don't look good in my rose-colored glasses anymore.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 12:22 AM

Madmom61, you are basing your comments on other people? You didn't attend or have children attend East side. Wow! and I thought I was qualified coz, I only have 2 children attending.We all have obstacles in every day life. I thank you for thinking of others but have you looked up how many sex offenders are located in Brazil? I wouldn't want my children walking anywhere let alone to school.

-- Posted by Sand mann on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 6:50 AM

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