School Board To Mosdos Ohr Hatorah: ‘We Hear You’


cleveland-school-boardThe Cleveland Heights-University Heights (CH-UH) school board will once again discuss the idea of putting the former Millikin School up for auction, president Karen Jones announced at the board meeting March 6.

Several hundred people were in the audience, including many children and parents with posters supporting the purchase of the former school property in Cleveland Heights by Mosdos Ohr Hatorah, an Orthodox day school. Mosdos has placed three bids in five years on the vacant building, including a recent bid for $550,000. The board meeting had been moved to Wiley Middle School in anticipation of the large audience.

“The Cleveland Heights City Council has spoken on behalf of Mosdos Ohr Hatorah, Mayor (Edward) Kelley has written a letter, and Mosdos has made clear their desire to purchase and use the building as a school,” Jones said. “The board views all of these reasons to be compelling enough to once again discuss the idea of putting the Millikin property up for auction.

“So Mosdos Ohr Hatorah, we hear you, we appreciate your being here and your need to expand in order to meet your school’s growing student population,” Jones said. She added that the board would seek a current formal appraisal to determine market value.

“We anticipate a special board meeting with an executive session on Monday (March 12) to discuss district property,” said Angee Shaker, the school district’s director of communications and community engagement. At press time, the date was yet to be confirmed, she said.

The last appraisal of the property in 2005 was addressed when more than a dozen people presented reasons for the sale to Mosdos during the public-comment segment of the meeting. Comments ranged from concerns about the decline of housing values if the building were used for commercial purposes, to Mosdos being the perfect fit for the Millikin property.

Cleveland Heights City Councilman Jason Stein challenged school officials’ statements that the appraisal value of the Millikin property is $2.4 million. “The actual price is $874,000,” he said, referring to a copy of the complete appraisal by David E. Walter & Associates dated Sept. 29, 2005.

The $874,000 is for the land, Stein said, “since the school building needs about $2 million in renovations to bring it back to what it was in 2006.” He also cited correspondence from Mosdos attorney Alan J. Rapoport to CH-UH business services director Stephen A. Shergalis on Feb. 29, 2012.

“The appraiser based a high valuation of about $2.5 million on an assumption of a future change of zoning to ‘mid-density residential,'” which is unlikely, Rapoport wrote.

Refuting previous statements by the school board that recent bids by Mosdos were unsolicited, Stein referred to emails from Shergalis to attorney Peter D. Brosse, who represented Mosdos, beginning March 16, 2011, regarding a meeting to discuss the purchase.

“I think they may be coming around the bend now,” Mosdos’s executive director Rabbi Baruch Chaim Manies said about the school board March 7. “After last night, I have a feeling they’ll really be hearing.”

{Cleveland Jewish News/ Newscenter}