Erie superintendent wants a new Edison Elementary

  • The Erie School District considered what to do with 91-year-old Edison Elementary School as part of a district-wide construction plan
  • A new school rather than renovations appears to be gaining momentum with support from the district administration
  • The school board asked to vote within a month on the plan; the new school would cost $34.2 million

The Erie School District has said for years that 91-year-old Edison Elementary School needs a massive makeover.

An even bigger project is taking shape for School 413 at 1921 East Lake Road.

Instead of spending $25.4 million to renovate the building, Erie Schools Superintendent Brian Polito wants the district to build a new $34.2 million Edison, a proposal that appears to have the support of the Erie School Board.

“For Edison, my recommendation would be to go with the new building,” Polito told principals during their monthly full committee study session on Wednesday evening. “I think that would be the safest thing to do right now, now that we can afford it.”

The district would pay for the new school with existing funding, including bond income and a portion of the nearly $100 million it received in federal pandemic relief, Polito said.

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The Erie School District, which has more than 10,000 students, has been able to afford large-scale construction projects since it began receiving $14 million in additional, recurring annual government aid in 2018. to remain solvent.

Polito commented after district architects HHSDR Architects and Engineers of Sharon presented the school board with a study of either renovating Edison or demolishing the school and constructing a new building just south of the current footprint. The new school would face Bacon Street rather than East Lake Road.

The architects had been working on the study since September, when the school board, at Polito’s request, consented to a review of options for the building. The Polito administration also established cost estimates for renovations and a new school.

Polito said Wednesday night his administration wants the council to vote within a month on whether to remodel Edison or build a new school. According to the architects’ schedule, construction of a new Edison and demolition of the current school would take 26 months, with a tentative completion date of May 2025.

Edison students would take classes in the current building while the new building is under construction, according to the architects’ plans. The district would have to move the Edison students to another building during renovations, which would take about 30 months, the architects said.

School board support

None of the nine principals objected outright to plans for a new Edison on Wednesday night, and some said they plan to vote for the proposal rather than renovations, whenever Edison’s proposals would be put to a vote.

Some of the principals said a new school was long overdue for Edison students and their families. A total of 83.6% of Edison students are classified as “economically disadvantaged”, according to status data.

“I can’t imagine an acceptable way to renovate what currently exists,” said school principal Jay Breneman. “I think it’s a powerful investment that we can make and the side is worthy of.”

Edison Elementary School student Layana Gay-Manus receives a hug from school assistant Taneshia Salter, rear right, on the first day of school, August 30.

“I’m all for the new Edison and have been for a long time,” said school principal Rosemary Sheridan, a retired principal and teacher from the Erie School District. “These kids deserve it and the staff deserve it.”

Some of the principals echoed what the district administration said were its reasons for new construction rather than renovations. District officials said building a new school might make more sense because of Edison’s age; the cost of renovations; and the difficulty of moving Edison’s students to another school while their building is gutted and rebuilt. The building, 57,666 square feet on two levels, last underwent a major overhaul in 1952.

District officials also said a new Edison would feature enough space to accommodate more students and relieve overcrowding at nearby Diehl Elementary School, 2327 Fairmount Parkway. As many as 64 students who now attend Diehl and live near Edison could attend a new Edison, said Neal Brokman, Erie School District’s executive director of operations.

he Erie School District has always considered renovating the 91-year-old Edison Elementary School as part of the district's broad plan to modernize its buildings.  But the district is now considering where to build a new school to replace the existing building, at 1921 East Lake Road, shown here in August.  The new building would rise to the south of the existing building, or the area in the far right of this photo.

Part of district plan

If built, a new Edison School would be the first school the Erie School District has built since East High School, now East Middle School, which opened in 1998. The Erie School District has considered this things to do with Edison since the school board adopted Polito’s $80.8 million construction plan in 2018.

The plan, made possible by additional state aid, aims to make the district’s 16 school buildings “warm, safe and dry,” after years of budget shortfalls that led to deferred maintenance, said Polito.

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The receipt of pandemic aid has strengthened the scope of the construction plan. The district was able to allocate much of the federal money to new ventilation systems, freeing up more than $80.8 million for other projects, such as a new Edison Schoolhouse and complete school renovation. Erie secondary. At Erie High, the newest and most visible part of the project is the renovation of the front facade of the building at 3325 Cherry St.

Erie School District Superintendent Brian Polito.

As all of this work continues, Polito said he is glad the Erie School District has enough money and financial stability to be able to begin building a new school. The CPA has served as superintendent since July 2017 and was previously the school district’s chief financial officer.

“I am very happy that we are able to consider building a new school for the Edison neighborhood,” Polito said after Wednesday’s meeting. “When I started with the district seven years ago, we were six months behind on our insurance bills. It’s hard to believe we’ve come this far.”

Contact Ed Palatella at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ETNpalattella.

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