April 16, 2014

Medina
Mostly sunny
44°F

Elementary school’s teacher night could be its last

“Meet Your Teacher” night Thursday at Heritage Elementary School was exciting and chaotic — with students running around and slurping ice cream from the cafeteria.

It also was bittersweet for many because it might be the beginning of the final year the school is open.

From left, James Feeks, 9, his mother, Kate Feeks, and Heritage Elementary School Principal Carol Starrick say goodbye after the school’s “Meet Your Teacher” night Thursday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY KIERA MANION-FISCHER)

If the five-year, 5.9-mill levy fails on the November ballot, Medina Schools administrators have announced the school will close in the 2014-15 school year, and the district will switch to a “banded elementary school concept.”

“It will be difficult because they’ll shift buildings every two years,” said Traci Linn, a third-grade teacher going into her 24th year at Heritage. “It will be harder for teachers to keep track of kids.”

In a display of school pride, all Heritage staff wore T-shirts saying, “Heritage: Strong in the neighborhood since 1976.”

“We are here, we are strong,” special education teacher Mandy Riegler said. “The levy doesn’t just affect us. It affects every single building.”

A staff member came up with the idea to make shirts, and Principal Carol Starrick and other administrators came up with the slogan.

“It’s not a campaign thing, but we just wanted to honor the years it’s been here,” Starrick said as she greeted parents and returning students, some with hugs.

The school is a little maze-like — with no interior walls between classrooms. The rooms are separated by large bookshelves.

Starrick said this design was a trend when the school was built to allow for changing class sizes and classroom needs.

This year, the school will house about 390 students, she said.

School officials have said Heritage was chosen for closure because it has the highest utility costs per square foot even though it is the smallest school in the district.

One parent, Medina resident Meghan Owings, said she was “frustrated, very frustrated and sad” at the thought of losing Heritage.

Owings has two children at the school, who will be in first and fourth grades this year. She said that even though she was disappointed in Superintendent Randy Stepp and board members who voted for his new contract, which has fueled controversy, she said she still would vote for the levy.

“I went to a public school,” she said.

Another mother, Kate Feeks, also with two children at the school, said she lives right across the street.

“I would be devastated if it closed down,” she said. “I’ve lived in this neighborhood my whole entire life.”

In contrast, gym teacher Brett Smith is new to the school. Smith is starting his first year at Heritage. He said he was praying and hoping for the best.

“It’s exciting to have a job,” he said. “But, wow. This might be a one-year gig.”

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.

  • NinetoFive

    Bad decisions let to this. When the choice was made to build two schools that they could not afford to operate. When the BOE turned a blind eye and rubber stamped everything that the Super was doing without thinking. Now, a terrific, family oriented neighborhood school is on the chopping block. This is so extremely sad and so very wrong!

  • Wake up Medina

    What a joke. “Not a campaign thing…” It is clearly a “campaign” thing. Let’s ask the question: how many Medina school teachers live within the school district and therefore can vote for the levy. The answer will surprise you. The teachers are all for the levy because their taxes will not be increased as the majority live outside the district, only ours. Nice try Heritage!!!! Another black eye for this sinking District.

  • OhioGuy10

    I do not think wearing Heritage shirts is a u201ccampaign thingu201d. It would be nice if more teachers and kidsntook a little more pride in their school and community. I remember seeing all the orange shirtsnaround town for Buckeye last year and thought that was great. I remember when teachers wore those unionnshirts and always thought that was wrong. We are all part of the same communitynand should be working for a common goal. Schools do help solidify a communitynand as we have seen can bring communities together. nnThat being said it will take more than t-shirts to heal thencommunity but I do appreciate the start. I still maintain the board has gotnMedina in this mess and needs to get Medina out. Money has not been spentnwisely in Medina for years and it is better now but still has a long way to go.nThe golden age of u201cteachingu201d is over and concessions will have to be made innorder to move forward. I understand concessions have been made but there willnhave to be more. It is a different world out here than it was 15 years ago. nnI expect before this is over it will require a completenoverhaul of all the different u201cleadersu201d involved from the Board, to the Unionnand the Administration.

  • Beeliever

    You need to stop being so bitter and negative. Let me ask YOU a few questions: Name one student that deserves to be hurt from voting no? Name a teacher that deserves to lose their job? Name a teacher, bus driver, or custodian that caused any of the Board’s mishaps? This levy is NEEDED by the students, families, and staff of Medina NOT the Board wanting to just blow money. MOVE FORWARD MEDINA. Oh wait, you do make one good point… it’s your name. It is time to “Wake up Medina” and pass this levy!!!