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$12.5M bagged for student wellness center

ARP funds to cover more than 80% of project; no additional costs to taxpayers

WARREN — Warren City Schools will receive $12.5 million in American Rescue Plan dollars to help build a wellness center at Warren G. Harding High School.

The funding, part of a state application approved by the Ohio Department of Education, was announced at Tuesday’s school board meeting. The project is estimated to cost $15 million.

Officials said the remaining project costs already have been put aside in capital improvements, and the project calls for no additional costs to taxpayers.

“We needed to be fiscally responsible and create a plan for using these grant funds that would be sustainable once the funding source was no longer available. I am thrilled that our plan has come to fruition, and we will be providing equitable opportunities for our students,” district Treasurer Karen Sciortino said.

The district is looking to break ground in the spring or early summer with the project completion date set for August 2023.

“This is a huge accomplishment for our district. The largest portion of the project costs will be covered by the federal grant dollars,” Sciortino said.

Superintendent Steve Chiaro said the funding makes the project a reality for the students and the community.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for Warren City Schools, the children and community. The center will let us focus on the health and well-being of our students and provide the best in opportunities for the students,” Chiaro said.

Board member Patricia Limperos, who serves on the athletic council, said the center will be built specifically for the students, and feature student-centered programming.

“The health and wellness center project will complete our campus vision and provide space and resources necessary to enhance the growth and development of our children,” Limperos said.

The grant funding “will play an important role as we move forward with our planning, construction and programming phases. It is certainly an exciting time for our Warren City Schools’ families as we begin to move forward with this project,” Limperos said.

Dante Capers, associate superintendent of student services, student wellness and success, said the center is “a tremendous opportunity for the students and families in the school district.” It will increase the district’s capacity to develop students’ level of personal wellness and social emotional awareness as the needs of the whole child are advanced, he said.

“Part of our vision for this project is to realize more equitable student academic and wellness outcomes by addressing barriers such as anxiety and other mental health concerns brought to light through the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

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