Reluctant departure from UH

A school has been located at 2301 Fenwick Road for as long as anyone can remember. Many attended Northwood Elementary School. When its doors closed, Fuchs Mizrachi School opened.

This summer, Fuchs Mizrachi is moving to Beachwood. Rabbi Pinchos Hecht, head of school, gave this interview on April 19.  

When did you first realize a move was your only option?

Five years ago, we realized that we had outgrown the facility. It was the high school that pushed the need for another facility. This building does not have proper science labs or a high school gymnasium; it doesn’t have the necessary co-curricular facilities. We actually have eight classrooms of students sitting in trailers. Plans to add to the existing building would have been over $15 million. The new building, with the land in Beachwood, is in excess of $20 million. 

Tp what do you attribute your success?

We are a mission-oriented school. Our mission is modern orthodoxy, religious Zionism, and excellence in education. Attending college is not a question, it's a given. All graduating students enter college. Many people moving here want a Jewish education for their children. There are some wonderful public schools, but they don’t provide the perspective Mizrachi offers.

Who funds the school?

The biggest funder is the Jewish Federation. Our board is the governance of the school and a source of major fundraising. 

I have been told the school is asking $3 million for the Fenwick property.

The $3 million was the result of a property evaluation survey we did four or five years ago. We have six plus acres and that [price] was our initial estimate at the time. We felt all along the best use of the facility would be if it were purchased by UH with a bond financed by the city. We actually worked with Mayor Rothschild and [felt it was] the best way to meet the city’s need and get the dollars we needed out of the facility to help us with our new building. But with the economic decline in the last two years, it is not an easy thing for the city to act upon at this point. 

 Are you currently in negotiations for the sale of this property?

We haven’t yet engaged a professional person. We have a few different strong leads that we are working on right now--a number of different schools, charter schools, Jewish schools-- that have outgrown their facilities. And John Carroll University is looking for property. They need sports fields. I’m sure there’ll always be a school of some sort on this property, I can’t imagine anything else being done.  

What was it like dealing with the City of UH?

The city has been a pleasure. I’ve been a principal here and elsewhere and this has been the easiest ever. We’ve had an unbelievably productive and friendly relationship. 

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I’d like to say “thank you.” It is with a heavy heart that we leave. We made wonderful relationships here. We hoped not to have to leave. We had a great push on part of our community to stay here, to continue to support the city and be a part of it. We are simply land-locked and couldn’t get our vision and mission achieved on this piece of land. It’s a reluctant move.

Send your comments and suggestions for future topics to Anita Kazarian at AnitaKazarian@gmail.com.

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Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 6:40 PM, 04.22.2010