REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WCMH) — A Reynoldsburg middle school will close at the end of the current school year due to repairs the district cannot pay for.
The Reynoldsburg City School Board voted Tuesday night to close Hannah J. Ashton Middle School, citing the cost of needed repairs — estimated at $18 million. The district said if those repairs were made, it would buy the school another seven years. Short-term repairs would cost the district $3 million.
“There is currently no additional funding available to either repair or replace the building,” the district posted to its website.
An $85 million bond issue in 2021 would have torn down Hannah J. Ashton, built a new early childhood development center on the site, and construct a new middle school at the Summit Road campus. However, the bond was rejected by voters.
The district said the 154-year-old building needs repairs to leaks in the roof and plumbing problems and to address issues with the outside of the building. A structural engineer determined the building is safe, but there are areas of the building that are not usable without the repairs, the district said.
Students entering the fifth grade next year will be sent to the district’s other elementary schools, while grades sixth through eighth will move to STEM Middle at Baldwin Road and Waggoner Road Junior High.
Mary Stoots, president of the Reynoldsburg Truro Historical Society, said the school’s demise is more than just a building closure — it’s saying farewell to a piece of history.
“We have a place in our heart for it — it’s one of the oldest buildings in town and it was the center of everything,” Stoots said while sitting in a room dedicated to the history of the school at the museum across the street.
Her mother graduated from the school in 1947 and her grandmother graduated from the Reynoldsburg Union Academy in the center of the building 30 years earlier.
The board’s decision to close the school at the end of the school year was one of four options the board considered. The other options were keeping the school open at 100% capacity for the 2023-24 school year; keeping the school open at 50% capacity for the 2023-24 school year; or closing the school over a two-year period.
There are currently 450 students in grades fifth to eighth at the school. Angela Abram, president of Reynoldsburg’s Board of Education, said students will be dispersed throughout the district’s other schools.
“When we think about closing down a building it just hits you at so many angles — and so it was very difficult,” Abram said.
Parts of the school date back to 1868, with additions made to the building in 1925, 1954, 1964, and 2005.
Stoots says the building will forever be a big part of Reynoldsburg’s history.
“I wish with all my heart that we could save it,” Stoots said, “But (what) I wish for isn’t what I always get.”