The Willoughby-Eastlake Board of Education is making final plans to move into its new office building while awaiting technology and a fire/occupancy inspection.
Temporary school district offices are currently at the School of Innovation, 32500 Chardon Road in Willoughby Hills, the result of a March 2017 fire that rendered the previous building defunct. The temporary offices are being used while crews finish renovations to the the new building and officials working on securing permits.
The move-in is expected in January.
In contrast to the temporary offices, the new district building is in a central location near the Willoughby-Eastlake border — 35353 Curtis Blvd.
“It’s almost dead-centrally located, right next to the freeway, so we’re within 5-10 minutes of any school,” said Superintendent Steve Thompson. “It’s a perfect location.”
According to Thompson, the building had sat empty for 10 years before the district bought it. District officials found that it fit their needs, including office space for the treasurer’s office, superintendent’s office, department of pupil services, curriculum and instruction, operations and public relations.
“It was everybody that was in the old central office that burned down,” Thompson said. “All those entities move.”
Board meetings will be held on the first floor, along with reception, computer services and public relations.
A new feature on the third floor is designed for professional development for faculty, which was previously held in classrooms.
The fourth floor will house pupil services, technology offices and curriculum and instruction. The fifth floor will be occupied by the superintendent, treasurer and human resources.
As of now, the second floor has no determined purpose.
The previous school district building, formerly known as the Chandler-Tucker Estate, was located at the corner of Ridge and Shankland Road in Willoughby and was left unusable following the March 14, 2017 fire.
Thompson noted that “it was really beautiful” but the building was not centrally located.
“It was definitely not conducive to being a central office,” the superintendent said. “It was just built to be a home, not an office.”
The hope for the renovated five-floor facility is that it will provide the district with a better location and space necessary for office functions, as well as additional space for their professional services.
Thompson expressed that it was “dumb luck” that the building had been available and fit the needs of the district.
“It gives us the space that we need in a building,” Thompson said in a previous News-Herald article. “Although our old offices had amazing character and this one does not have that, as far as efficiency goes, it’s way more efficient and the location is perfect.”