Mutual support — smaller Wickliffe City Schools district doing big things thanks to its community

[WEWS] Mutual support — smaller Wickliffe City Schools district doing big things thanks to its community

WICKLIFFE, Ohio — News 5 is checking in with school districts across Northeast Ohio to see how they're doing.

Wickliffe City Schools is a district of about 1,300 students and 200 staff.

Next year, all students in the district will be under one roof in a brand-new building being built just outside the current high school.

All three current buildings will be torn down. The high school lot will be redeveloped into green space and parking for the new school.

Joe Spiccia, the superintendent of the Wickliffe City School District, says one of his biggest concerns right now is school funding. Not from his community, but from the state.

"It's a working-class place, it’s a generous place," said Spiccia about the city of Wickliffe.

He says in his nine years as superintendent, Wickliffe voters have passed every request for funding, including the bond issue to build this new school. He says they've helped fill funding gaps from the state.

"We receive about 25% of our funds from the state foundation," said Spiccia. "The average in Ohio is 40%."

They are not alone. The Ohio Supreme Court previously declared the state's school funding system unconstitutional.

The state legislature recently passed a new school funding plan that Spiccia is hopeful will make things fairer statewide.

"Fund the formula," he said as a message to lawmakers. "If you fund the formula, I don’t think there’s a superintendent in Ohio who would say, 'that’s not fair, or that's not right.'"

The district strives to do right by the community.

Take, for example, the Wickliffe Family Resource Center, which the school district operates out of the high school.

"Over here we have WIC, which stands for women, infants and children," said service coordinator, Leah Reese, as she gave a tour of the center.

The family resource center is open to everyone of all ages and fills a gap in services in the immediate area, says Reese, from primary care to mental health.

"If this wasn’t here, I think that it would be really difficult for a lot of families we serve because transportation is such a huge barrier," said Reese.

Spiccia says the center is self-sustaining through partnerships with multiple agencies.

The school also operates WicKloset; a student-led organization that gives local families free access to non-perishable food, toiletries, diapers, clothing and home goods.

The students sort and organize donations during their school day. Their involvement is part of the curriculum of the service-learning program.

The students say the work is rewarding and eye-opening.

"It means a lot to me that I have time set out in my day that I can help and give back to the community," said Clare Andrykovitch, senior.

"Also, it shows we don’t know what people go through,” said Madison Klinger, senior.

"And, seeing how generous people are with their donations and how many people have a desire to give because we receive a ton of donations,” said Zach Touschner, senior.

Both the Wickliffe Family Resource Center and WicKloset will have space in the new building, where Superintendent Spiccia says they’re reimaging education.

"We're going to offer evening classes," he said. "We’re going to offer classes on Saturdays. We’re going to offer classes, where appropriate, that adults and students can take simultaneously. We are truly trying to build a community campus.”

They're Building a community campus while remaining hopeful that the legislature builds on its promise for fair school funding.

Spiccia says they’ll have an auction of school items before all three buildings are torn down, and a way of getting things of meaning to people who’d like them. For example, he said an older gentleman contacted him about getting the locker number and room plaque that are special to him from when he and his high school sweetheart met.

As for the site of the elementary and middle schools, Spiccia says they’re hoping to work with a developer to build single-family homes on the site to help keep more growing families in Wickliffe.

View our previous report in this series:

Olmsted Falls City Schools focusing on building relationships post-pandemic

School Survey Follow-up: Olmsted Falls City Schools builds on relationships to bounce back from the pandemic

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Source: WEWS