Dayton mulls fate of schools, HQ building; public meetings planned

Dayton Public Schools will hold community meetings on Jan. 10, 11, 17 and 18 to discuss the possibility of closing and consolidating school buildings because of declining enrollment.

Acting Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said Tuesday night that locations for those sessions are still being figured out, but DPS officials have said they intend to have one meeting in each quadrant of the city.

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The school board approved a resolution Tuesday calling on the district to do a full study of district buildings and facilities, and for the superintendent to recommend a plan of action “in late January or early February.”

Lolli last week mentioned the possibility of closing three schools, but said the number could end up higher or lower than that. On Tuesday, Lolli emphasized that the district will analyze the use of all of its facilities, both those currently in use, as well as vacant structures.

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The fate of the DPS headquarters buildings at 115 S. Ludlow St. is also up for discussion, Lolli said, as is a district-owned building across the street at 124 S. Ludlow.

Associate Superintendent Shelia Burton said last week that the district’s six-story headquarters, which is actually two buildings, houses only 150 central office employees, and is “a major financial challenge” because of $1.1 million in deferred maintenance.

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Lolli said DPS has already made contact with the city of Dayton’s development office, and wants to talk about development plans in areas where DPS has facilities. The two DPS buildings on Ludlow Street downtown are less than a block from the city’s arcade, which is the subject of a $90 million redevelopment proposal.

Outgoing school board member Joe Lacey sought assurances that once the superintendent’s team made its recommendations on building closures, that the public would have sufficient time to respond publicly before the newly seated school board votes.

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“Nothing has been decided at this point in time, and we need to make that very clear that we are not certain what this study or review will (reveal),” Lolli said. “Any recommendation that we bring forward from the study, and from working with business partners and community leaders, would be of course reviewed by the board of education publicly before ever being brought to a vote.”

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