TALLMADGE: Overdale Primary School, which closed in the spring of 2011 as part of budget cuts made by the Tallmadge school district, will hear little footsteps echoing in its halls again this fall.
Stow-based Cornerstone Community School placed a top bid of $320,000 on the property last week, and the school board approved the sale.
For Karen Chivers, starting her sixth year as Cornerstone’s headmaster, the move represents a homecoming. She worked at Overdale during her 18 years as a Tallmadge special education teacher.
“I feel like, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m going back home,’?” she said.
Tallmadge Superintendent Jeff Ferguson said it’s a happy ending for the 33,000-square-foot building, which comes with an adjacent playground and ball field.
“I really thought it was a win-win for the citizens,” Ferguson said. “We got a fair price for the building, which is money that can go back into our building permanent improvement fund, and the building went to a group of well-deserving people.”
Ferguson said there were several people from Cornerstone present at the auction, where four bidders competed.
“It was kind of nice for me to see their excitement, to see them get that opportunity,” he said.
Chivers said that during the auction, some families were praying at a church next door, then ran over to celebrate the successful bid.
“A group of teachers I taught with [at Overdale] were there, too, and they were rooting for us like they wanted to keep it in the family,” she said.
Cornerstone, a Christian school that served 95 children in grades K-6 last year, has been around for 17 years. But the school has never had a home of its own.
“We started off in Kent and moved to Stow. We’ve been nomadic, renting spaces in churches,” Chivers said.
Its most recent home was at Stow Alliance Fellowship.
Hoping to put down roots, the school bought land on Stow Road, but could never raise the money to start construction, she said. Then the economy tanked, “so we started looking at empty buildings, thinking maybe we’re not supposed to build.”
“We’ve been through warehouses and restaurants and schools,” Chivers said. When she learned Tallmadge was closing Overdale in a cost-savings measure, she took that idea to her board. Cornerstone officials toured the school last fall, and several investors came on board.
Cornerstone’s students come from 13 public school districts in three counties. While there are a few families to the north “torn” over whether to follow the school to Tallmadge, Chivers said, its new home will open up possibilities to the south.
“We’d like to increase student enrollment, and we could pull from other areas like Akron, Ellet, Mogadore,” she said.
Besides, she added, some districts offer transportation to her students, and the Tallmadge site “is really just five miles south of where we are now,” Chivers said.
She said her staff is thrilled at the potential for all the new space. Teachers have been used to sharing classrooms and doing without things like a library or room for after-school clubs.
“I have plans to use all the rooms at Overdale,” Chivers said, including some long-needed storage space.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.