PEMBERVILLE - Webster Elementary will reopen in January to house a nursing school on its second floor.
Eastwood Schools Superintendent Brent Welker shared on Wednesday the information about a possible lease with Acadia Career Institute to use the six classrooms on Webster's second floor for its one- and two-year LPN and RN programs.
The institute has been operating in Findlay for a number of years, and just graduated its last students this fall.
"It's a meaningful use back in the building," said Welker.
The school board will vote on the contract at its meeting Monday.
The potential contract with the career institute came out of the blue, said Welker.
The two-year lease agreement would start Jan. 1, 2013. The payment to the district would be $18,000 annually.
That helps offset the cost of reopening the building, estimated at $45,000 to $50,000 the first year, but dropping after that. Eastwood would maintain the building and heat it.
The school board voted in November 2010 to close Webster Elementary, on Ohio 199 in Scotch Ridge, at the end of the 2010-11 school year as a cost-saving measure, and because district enrollment had dropped to where three elementaries were not needed.
The building used to house 150 students. But savings from closing the building would top $600,000 annually.
But while Webster has no longer housed students, it has been maintained and officially was placed on "temporary suspension" so that in the future, should student enrollment track upward, the building could be returned to service.
The added boon to this agreement, according to Welker, is the district no longer has to spend $250,000 to overhaul the bus garage at Pemberville for two classrooms to house all-day kindergarten.
With the reopening of Webster, preschool classes can be held in three classrooms on the bottom floor of the school, freeing up space at Luckey and Pemberville for all-day kindergarten classes. The schools now offer half-day classes.
The preschool students and nursing students won't see each other as the nursing classes won't start until 4 p.m., Welker added.
The preschool would start there for the 2013-14 school year.
"It's something great to the township," said Webster Township Trustee Jim Cajka, who attended the special meeting Wednesday.
Board member Ted Bowlus asked about the cost of utilities for the building.
According to Welker, that would be between $45,000 and $50,000 for the first year. "We'll take a little bit of a hit," he agreed. But he reminded the board to compare that cost to the $250,000 estimate of renovating the bus garage.
"This is a no-brainer," said board member Roger Bostdorff. "As long as these guys are reputable, we should do this."
"They're getting quite a good deal, financially," said Bowlus.
"So are we," responded Bostdorff.
Welker added, "It's like we've fallen into good luck."
Enrollment at the nursing school is expected to be 10-12 in each program the first year, but should grow as executive director and owner Artemis Gross gets word out.
The career institute has been in Findlay for two years, with a branch in Ann Arbor. With the opening at Webster, the Ann Arbor location will be closed and those programs moved to Webster. For next year, that will include medical assistant, massage therapy and nursing assistant programs, said Gross.
RN and LPN classes will start at the end of January, with the other programs starting by the end of the year.
Nursing students will attended classes at Webster five days a week, from 4 to 10:45 p.m., and graduate with a diploma. The institute is accredited through the Ohio Board of Nursing.
Gross has been a long-time Eastwood resident, and is thrilled at the opportunity to use Webster Elementary.
All four of her children attended school there.
The reopening of the building "will be really great for the community," she said. "Bringing new life to the building would be great."
She toured the building with Welker several weeks ago.
"I could see every single teacher, every single play, every single Christmas party, every single thing my kids did while there," she stated.
Her oldest daughter started at Webster in 1988, she recalled.
She will employ six to seven teachers, some from her Findlay school and some local.
According to Phil Donaldson, director of operations for the district, Webster needs a broken window replaced, the boilers inspected after not running for the past months, and some files need to be moved. The district will also have to purchase desks for the preschool classrooms, as many were sold at auction earlier this fall.
"Yeah, it's a good deal for everyone, I think," Donaldson stated.