Students posed for photos the first day of class at the newly opened Westlake Elementary School. Guests may take self-guided tours Saturday after dedication ceremonies at 5:15 p.m.

A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Westlake Elementary School on Center Ridge Road.

Following a brief ceremony that will include the Westlake High School Marching Band and Westlake Elementary School choir, guests may take self-guided tours of the $38 million building designed for 1,200 students from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade.

The two-story, 154,000-square-foot building replaced four aging elementary schools scattered across Westlake. Planning began more than a decade ago when the 20/20 Vision Committee, composed of school leaders and residents, began studying the district’s facility needs.

Phase II of the plan focused on meeting the needs of the district's elementary-age students. Planning for a new elementary school swung into high gear in late 2016 after voters passed a 1.3-mill, 33-year bond issue for $33.6 million and a 0.8-mill permanent improvement levy that will raise approximately $1.14 million annually to maintain the district’s facilities and pay for capital improvements.

The city and school board then signed a deal to trade properties to give the district a centrally located site for the new building. The city exchanged the 29.4-acre Center Ridge Road property for 42 acres of two district-owned properties off Bradley Road and the former school board office at the northwest corner of Hilliard Boulevard and Dover Center Road. The city pledged up to $1 million to make road improvements; in turn the city got ownership of the former Parkside School building on Hilliard that houses the school board offices.

Superintendent Scott Goggin said in an earlier interview that there are only so many times when you can deliver to a community something that will stand for decades. He said the district had worked with teachers, staff, parents and city officials on the design of the building, “I'm proud to see the input and hard work of many people come to life.”

Parking for the dedication is available at the school by entering from Center Ridge Road. Overflow parking will be across the street at Westlake United Methodist Church, 27650 Center Ridge Road. Guests are asked not to park at Westlake Porter Public Library or on Westown Boulevard. Ceremonies will be moved inside to the cafeteria/gymnasium in case of inclement weather.

Michele Murphy is a freelance reporter from Avon Lake.

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