TALLMADGE – The demolition and sale of two closed schools will continue in spite of COVID-19.
When schools closed in March, teachers and staff were in the middle of moving items from Munroe Elementary, 230 N. Munroe Road, and Dunbar Primary, 731 Dunbar Road, to the new elementary school on East Avenue.
"We had teachers come back in small numbers to get any remaining items from Dunbar and Munroe," said Superintendent Jeff Ferguson. "Fortunately, we had packed all that was to be moved prior to the shutdown. We have been moving since last week with our custodial maintenance staff."
An online auction will soon have the remaining desks and other items not being moved to the new school available for bid at www.kaufman-auctions.com/project/details/52372.
Munroe opened in 1962 and Dunbar opened in 1949 as kindergarten through fifth grade elementary neighborhood schools, Ferguson said. When the district changed from neighborhood schools, Dunbar was kindergarten to second grades and Munroe served third to fifth grades.
These two buildings were part of the postwar baby boom when the district enrollment grew by 2,000 students from 1957 to 1967, Ferguson said. In the mid-1980s, district enrollment had shrunk and neighborhood schools became citywide grade level buildings.
"These two buildings have served this community successfully for over 50 years," Ferguson said. "These two buildings built for the baby boomers continued to educate their children and their children's children."
The Tallmadge schools Chief Operations Officer Steve Wood is in charge of the project which will begin with abatement of Munroe Elementary in June and demolition in July.
The pavement on the north side of the building will remain.
The softball field and practice football field are being built behind the church north of the school, he said. The baseball field is scheduled for construction in 2021 as well as a concession stand with a common parking area.
"We’ll start the softball field and football practice field this week," Wood said May 6. "All future phases are a function of fundraising and the district needs to raise funds to complete the fields and the upper plaza area. We had hoped to have fundraising underway but there are more important things now."
With COVID-19 and the economic environment, fundraising is on hold, he said. Dunbar is being used for storage, and the school district will attempt to auction the building and property, Wood said.
"Old school buildings are difficult to auction off and find a suitable buyer, but we’re hopeful we can do that," Wood said. "We’ll try that first. If successful, great; if not, then the board will consider different options, including demolition. The building is a detriment to that property."
Dunbar has a new development behind it and a nice residential street, he said.
"We’re hoping it will be attractive to developers," Wood said. "The school board doesn’t want it to become an eyesore."
Although the public cannot enter the buildings, Tallmadge High School senior Olivia Swain is a filmmaker and will create a virtual farewell to the buildings that will be made available to the public.
"Our community wants to say farewell to the buildings but can’t with COVID so she is providing a virtual farewell of the building," Wood said.
Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org