As Berkshire Schools prepares to break ground on its new Pre-K through 12 school in September, school officials are looking at what will become of the buildings that now serve the district.
Berkshire Superintendent John Stoddard said last week that the district is working with the Berkshire Community Planning Association to find the best uses for its two buildings in Burton Village and one in Thompson Township. Two of the buildings serve as elementary schools and one as the junior and senior high school.
Mr. Stoddard said the plan is to seek a grant through the Cleveland Foundation that will allow the district to hire an outside firm to determine the best uses for the buildings.
He said once those uses are identified, a community outreach engagement process will be undertaken to hear from the public on whether those proposed uses are supported by the community. He said Burton Village officials as well as township officials from Burton, Claridon, Troy, Montville and Thompson, the communities served by the district, will be invited into the process.
“The entire community will be involved in the process,” Mr. Stoddard said.
Once the uses have the approval of the public, he said, the firm will then market the buildings and target businesses that would seek such uses.
He said the BCPA is taking the lead on seeking the grant that will provide the dollars needed to perform the study.
Once those dollars are in place, the work will begin.
Involving the community in any decision is something looked favorably on by the Cleveland Foundation, so there is hope that they will look on the grant application with their approval, he said. The organization has also funded similar projects in the past, adding to the hope that the planning association efforts will be rewarded.
He said plans for seeking the grant are in the early stages and the district can now only hope it comes together to provide a solution for re-using the buildings.
Burton Village residents have expressed concerns in the past that the former junior and senior high building in the center of the village would be turned into a heavy, industrial use, although village officials have quelled those concerns, explaining that village zoning would never allow a heavy industrial use at that site.
Mr. Stoddard said current plans are to begin doing site work at the new school site this September.
He said bids for the work are being received by the board of education this month.