What's up with Wiley?

What is the CH-UH City School District’s plan for Wiley?

Wiley opened in 1954 and was used as a middle school for 60 years. In 2015, the district closed Wiley as a middle school and spent approximately $13 million for it to function as a “swing space” during the renovation of the high school.

The cost of the renovations at Wiley included the lease of temporary modular classrooms. All deferred maintenance and code issues were also addressed at that time. When the students moved out of Wiley, the building was in good condition. Yet Wiley has remained empty since the opening of the renovated middle schools in 2018.

The district owns three middle school buildings: Wiley to the east in University Heights, Roxboro (built in 1931) in western Cleveland Heights, and Monticello (built in 1930) in northern Cleveland Heights. Both Roxboro and Monticello received updates after the high school was completed, but the district was required to divert funds from the originally planned full upgrade of all building systems (heating/cooling, electrical, and plumbing) to pay for the necessary upgrades at Wiley, and to address unforeseen conditions related to the high school renovation.

Combined, the three middle school buildings have a total of more than 385,000 square feet. Current middle school enrollment is 1,102 students, which equals about 350 square feet per student. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s 2022 Ohio School Design Manual recommends 128–151 square feet per student for middle school buildings. Based on that guideline, the space needed to educate the currently enrolled middle school students is between 141,056 square feet and 166,402 square feet. Wiley, at 147,819 square feet without the modular classrooms, would be sufficient for all middle school students. Monticello and Roxboro’s combined 237,932 square feet is 40% more than state guidelines recommend at the high end.

Rather than continue to maintain an empty Wiley indefinitely, the CH-UH Board of Education needs a plan: either use the building for students again or begin the process of selling the property—a difficult process for schools in Ohio.

The state requires that when a district wants to sell property it must first offer it to private and charter schools at a fair market value before it can do anything else with the property (you can google “OSBA District Property Disposal fact sheet”).

It is unfair to the communities funding the schools for the district to spend money maintaining an empty building when that money could be used to benefit students in the district.

John Janssen

John Janssen is a Heights High alumnus (class of ’84) and chair of the CH-UH Lay Facilities Committee.

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Volume 17, Issue 4, Posted 11:19 AM, 03.28.2024