NORTH RIDGEVILLE 

A look into school district’s past and future

What was once a town filled with farms is now one of the fastest-growing communities in Ohio. With a population of nearly 35,000, it’s no wonder the school district has been through several changes over the past 200-plus years.

Serving just a handful of students, North Ridgeville’s first one-room schoolhouse opened in 1814. The 18-by-22-foot building sat close to where the McDonald’s currently is on Center Ridge Road.

After the school burned down in 1817, a new one was built across the street, said North Ridgeville Historical Society member Bill Noll. The fire most likely resulted from someone leaving the fireplace unattended, he said.

It is unknown how many students were enrolled at the time. But in 1853, the district had 436 students in 10 school buildings.

Those 10 one-room schoolhouses were spread throughout the town. Five of the buildings are still standing. One serves as a historical schoolhouse museum on Jaycox Road. The other four are private homes, said historical society member Kathy Bly.

The district provided education only for students through grade eight for some time. Students rode a train from Shawville Station on State Route 83 to Elyria to attend grades nine through 12. That was until a school building serving grades one through 12 was built in 1923. The current high school was built in 1968.

In 1923, Fields-Sweet Preschool was built on Root Road just off of Lorain Road. At one point, all elementary-age students attended school there. As classes grew, the building expanded three times. Fields-Sweet closed last year and the building was auctioned off. It is unknown what the current owners will do with it.

Many other changes also have occurred in just the past few years. The district spent $1 million last year to tear down the 91-year-old middle school and the 61-year-old Wilcox Elementary, both of which closed in June 2017 and were no longer needed. They were replaced by the new Academic Center, which opened in August 2017.

The former Lear North Elementary School transformed into Ranger High-Tech Academy two years ago. The STEM-themed school houses students in grades two through eight. Superintendent Roxann Ramsey-Caserio believes this is an exciting time to be in North Ridgeville.

“I see the community and district becoming a destination,” Ramsey-Caserio said. “The district has grown by nearly 500 students in the past decade.”

North Ridgeville’s population has been increasing the past few years, with new students entering the schools each year. Ramsey-Caserio said the prospect of a growing city with new construction excites her. Though it will present challenges, it will also present opportunities, she said.

During the 2014-2015 school year, the district had about 4,100 students enrolled. This year there were nearly 4,600 students, said director of operations Matt Yunker.

“Enrollment projections are showing approximately 3 to 4% growth each year for the next several years,” Yunker said. “Because of this, the district is currently evaluating existing facilities and working through a master plan process to determine what the next steps will be as far as facilities go. We anticipate that process being complete in the coming months.”

Contact this reporter at astewart@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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