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Norton stadium fans speak out

2/28/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

Also, new high school entrance debuted

Several members of the public asked the Norton City Schools Board of Education to keep the momentum going on building a new athletic stadium at the board’s Feb. 25 meeting.

“We’re in desperate need of this stadium,” said John Tanksley, Norton High School’s head football coach. “We’d like to keep working on that.”

Others who weighed in on the subject made similar pleas, asking the board to keep moving the project forward.

“The project had a lot of parents excited about the future of Norton schools, and everyone in the community would benefit from a new stadium,” said parent Steve Miller.

Parent Chris Williams added, “It’s about a culture change — teaching these kids that we believe in them.”

Upon concluding the portion of the meeting set aside for public participation, district officials commented on the status of the project.

“We know we need a new stadium,” said Board President Cindy Webel. “We are definitely moving forward with this.”

The board has not suspended the project or disbanded the stadium committee, but they have rejected one plan for financing the estimated $3.5 million project, she added.

Meetings will continue, said Webel, to consider alternate financing options, such as a bond issue, loans and other fundraising.

Superintendent David Dunn said following the board’s work session Feb. 18 that during that meeting, a recommendation was made to borrow against permanent improvement levy funds in a discussion that ultimately connected the stadium project to building a new high school.

The majority opinion of the board Feb. 18 was that any stadium project needed to be linked to a new high school building project and the preferred timeline to consider that would be 2014, according to Dunn. However, the discussion was not unanimous, he added.

“Definitely our concern during the conversation Monday night was trying to find a fiscal way to be responsible,” said board member Pat Santelli.

Though the project may not have an exact direction right now, discussions will continue, added Dunn. “And we need to provide a timeline,” he said.

Board member Jim Bennett stated for the record Feb. 18 he disagreed with waiting to begin the projects.

“I would urge my board colleagues to consider things that were said and move forward with a sense of urgency,” he added at the Feb. 25 meeting.

Also at the meeting, a new entrance to Norton High School means added security, according to Principal Ryan Shanor.

He led attendees on a tour of the nearly finished entranceway and new school offices. Administrators expect to start moving in by the end of this week, though the transition to the new space may not be complete until after spring break, Shanor said.

As it is now, guests have three choices after being buzzed in at the main doors of the school, he said.

“If you were to build a high school today, you would never build it like the one we have,” he said.

Once the transition is complete, visitors to the school will enter an atrium and need to be buzzed into inner doors that lead right to the school’s main offices, he explained. Also, parents or guests needing to drop off a forgotten lunch or other item needed for the school day for students can do so from a window in the atrium without entering the building at all, he noted.

The existing main office will become the school’s guidance office, and the old guidance office will be used by tutors, Shanor added.

In other business, the board acted on personnel items, including eliminating an eight-hour per day secretary position at the high school previously held by Sheila Paolucci. In related action, the board approved increasing a high school secretary/office assistant position from five-and-a-half hours per day to seven-and-a-half hours per day, plus 10 additional days. Both items passed with a 4-1 vote, with Webel casting the dissenting votes.

On the consent agenda, the board approved a number of technology-related contracts for services, including with Northeast Ohio Network for Educational Technology for wireless Internet service for Norton High School and Norton Middle School.

Also at the meeting, the board congratulated students of the month for February, including: George Antal for Norton Primary School, Ryan Ehrler for Grill Elementary School, Emma Prager for Norton Cornerstone School, Sydney Hagenbush for Norton Middle School and Andy Caras for Norton High School.

The next Committee of the Whole meeting is set for March 11 at 6 p.m. at the Administration Building, 4128 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road, and the next regular school board meeting is set for March 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Norton High School Media Center, 4108 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road.

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