Consider Severance-Millikin within the context of the facilities plan

To the Editor:

In his April 3rd missive [published online at www.heightsobserver.org] against me, Mr. Rapoport continues the flawed logic of looking at only one aspect of the multi-headed Hydra that is the Severance-Millikin conundrum.

Yes, I am not a real estate appraiser nor developer, but I do recall the real estate appraisal classes I took at Miami University before obtaining my real estate license. In them, I learned there are multiple ways to come to the value of a property. I also know it is in the interest of a buyer to look at the lowest valuations and the negatives of a property so as to drive the price down. With such dour opinions of this property, it seems almost foolish for anyone to buy it, which makes the cries to sell it a vexing paradox.

Perhaps Mr. Rapoport is unaware the CH-UH City School District is in the midst of developing a comprehensive facilities plan to cover the needs of public school students for the next 50 years. In a recent meeting on this plan, I was shocked by how much “swing space” may cost and how much the timing of the plan may be designed to minimize this expense. It is possible it would be cheaper and better for the plan if the district were to reactivate Severance-Millikin as a school than to use temporary trailers and other methods for educating public school students during construction. We don’t know, as we do not have a final plan; it has not been presented to the board, vetted by the public and funding secured. Determining Millikin’s fate prior to this would be foolish, as we should know the answers in the next few months.

What is unfortunate is that the selling of public assets to a private school is taking the discussion away from the single greatest construction project in this community’s history. Millikin is but one of 15 structures whose fate is being discussed, but some seem to place its future above all others. This is wrong. 

The great irony in this tempest is that Mr. Rapoport seems to be unique in the 50,000+ alumni from Cleveland Heights High School, as I know of no one else who has represented parties whose positions would be detrimental to the finances of the CH-UH City School District on three occasions. 

When the owner of Cleveland Heights’s largest commercial property, Severance Town Center, wanted to reduce their real estate taxes, it was Mr. Rapoport at the batter’s box working to reduce revenue to the public schools. When petitioners wanted to transfer the Caledonia neighborhood from the East Cleveland Schools to CH-UH, a transfer neither district wanted, it was Mr. Rapoport to the ramparts representing those who wanted to redraw boundaries created a century ago. With this latest issue, it is unfortunate Mr. Rapoport does not heed the lyrics of the 1963 Beach Boys song, “Be True to Your School”.

I am not opposed to leasing Severance-Millikin Elementary School or selling just the building. What I am in favor of is making sure the actions of the CH-UH School Board are in the long-term interests of the public schools and not what is politically expedient. The assets of the CH-UH School District should not be viewed as menu items to be served up a la carte to whomever can make the most noise. Our nation is ill served when lobbyists like Mr. Rapoport place the interests of their clients over that of public entities. I want Mosdos to be a strong and vibrant part of the pluralism that is Cleveland Heights, just not at the expense of our public schools.

Eric Silverman

Eric J. Silverman was a member of the CH-UH School Board from 1992–2001 and a member of the CH-UH Library Board from 2003–09.

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Volume 5, Issue 5, Posted 3:06 PM, 04.11.2012