Saturday, April 03, 1999

Two new schools top priority

Boone Co. seeks to meet growth needs

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FLORENCE — Two new elementary schools costing nearly $17 million and a $684,000 addition to Gray Middle School are the top three projects the Boone County school board wants to complete in the next two years.

        Handling a continuing rise in student population and ensuring that every school has adequate facilities is the board's long-term goal.

        “The first priority is to meet enrollment with seats,” said Robert Hayes, a Fort Mitchell architect helping the district plan. “Then we bring equality to all the schools.”

        This week, board members approved the district's facility plan, a document listing plans and hopes for new buildings and other improvements that must be submitted to the state to receive funding.

        The plan contains 25 projects totaling more than $82.9 million.

        Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said the district would like to open the two new elementary schools by 2000.

        The district hopes to build one elementary school on a 14-acre piece of property off Ky. 237 in Hebron. The property, owned by Arlinghaus developers, would be donated to the school system if Arlinghaus receives permission from the county's planning commission to build a 1,275-home subdivision.

        Bypassing land costs and using existing designs would save the county $700,000. A building similar to Erpenbeck Elementary would be built.

        The two new elementary schools, and a third one to replace Florence Elementary, are three of 10 first-priority projects included in the facility plan. These 10 can be completed in any order, and tackle the issues of space and equity.

        The need for more new schools is caused by an ever-multiplying number of new homes and subdivisions. Kevin Costello, the county's planning and zoning director, said there are 45 subdivisions under construction in the county. In 1998, there were 1,121 new single-family homes built, setting a record.

        And new homes mean new students. There were 303 stu dents added to the schools this year. Add that to the 450 new students from the year before, and the new Erpenbeck Elementary that opened in the fall is already at capacity.


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