Dr. Martin Ringstaff informed the Cleveland City School Board Site Committee on Tuesday that the Cleveland High Raider Dome has be replaced completely with an entirely new building, as simply replacing the dome itself is not financially or structurally practical.
The committee met to discuss how to proceed with the much-needed construction projects, that include the Raider Dome, and the planned new elementary school.
Dr. Murl Dirksen opened the meeting by commending Dr. Ringstaff, the Cleveland High administration, and teachers for their swift and efficient response to what he considered an unprecedented situation that they have been forced to deal with in short order. Dr. Dirksen declared, "We need to move, but not too quickly."
Board and site committee member Peggy Pesterfield also praised those involved for the response to the new classroom shortage saying, "This has been a tremendous team effort."
Dr. Dirksen said he is a taxpayer himself and careful with his money and the board and city would be wise to be frugal with the taxpayers' money.
Dr. Ringstaff said that while the base of the structure is fully intact and in good condition, the dome itself cannot be repaired and would have to be replaced. He said that since the round structure is not very efficient, and it would not cost much more, that it would be best to replace the gymnasium in its entirety.
Board member Peggy Pesterfield asked if the gym would be built at the same location. Dr. Ringstaff replied that the new gym would need to be attached to the school since classes will be held there. Maintenance and Transportation supervisor Hal Taylor added that since so much of the infrastructure is already in place there that it would be optimal for it to be in the same location.
School Board member Richard Shaw asked, “Are we going to talk about this for six months or are we going to act now?”
He said he felt as though a new gym for the high school was a more urgent need than the new elementary school that is currently being planned. Dr. Dirksen argued that that they are equally important projects that could be worked on concurrently. Dr. Ringstaff agreed.
Mr. Shaw reiterated the urgency of the project stating that the board needed to find a way to move quickly. Cleveland High school Principal Autumn O’Bryan added that the building issue is not just about a gym, but that there is also a shortage of classrooms. She said the high school is expecting its largest freshman class ever, with about 460 students.
Ms. O’Bryan added that the high school already did not have enough room for large facilities and quickly sold out basketball games. Cleveland City School’s Business Manager Brenda Carson emphasized that the new school project cannot take a backseat to the gym, as Mayfield Elementary is severely overcrowded and the ranks of some of the other elementary schools are starting to swell.
Dr. Ringstaff assured everyone that the gym could be completed without slowing the new school project in the process and that they have the full support of the city council. Dr. Ringstaff stated that many professionals have looked at the dome and that they have received a lot of “freebie estimates”, but that it is time to hire an architect so that the construction can be underway as soon as possible.
Peggy Pesterfield suggested that the committee recommend to the entire board that Upload Design, the firm handling the new school project, be hired to do the work for the new gym and to add to the agenda for a vote at the upcoming Jan. 6 school board meeting. Dr. Dirksen and Dr. Ringstaff agreed, as they both felt that this move could potentially save the city some money.