Tuesday, June 22, 1999

School improvement plan is the third try

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When it comes to renovating Cincinnati Public Schools' dilapidated buildings, district leaders are hoping the third time will be the charm.

        School board members on Monday directed Superintendent Steven Adamowski to draft a facilities improvement plan they could launch as soon as this fall.

        It will be the district's third since 1993.

        A district-commissioned study by Turner Construction Co. identified $600 million in needed repairs in 1993, and a facilities master plan released in October pegged the price at nearly $700 million.

        The first study is too outdated and doesn't account for the district's efforts to implement “team-based schools,” in which teams of teachers stay with the same students for several years, board members said.

        Board members — who gathered Monday at the Mayerson Academy in Corryville for a daylong strategic planning retreat — directed Mr. Adamowski to devise two plans.

        One would be based on money they know they can count on; Hamilton County and city officials have pledged $200 million to fix school facilities. The other would include anticipated in creases in state aid.

        Bare-bones improvements to make all schools clean, safe and dry are expected to cost at least $260 million, according to district data.

        Board members authorized the superintendent to work with architects Steed-Hammond-Paul to design a scaled-back school model and cost estimates.

        Board President Lynwood Battle was on the board when the Turner study was released, and members Ms. Marmer, Ms. Ingram and Harriet Russell joined shortly after.

        All of them acknowledged frustration that the Turner study and last October's report didn't lead to improved facilities. But they pledged to stop the deterioration.

        “People aren't looking for us to build something brand new or something as good as what Sycamore has, because they know we can't afford it,” board member Catherine Ingram said. “All this pie-in-the-sky stuff we'd love to have. But we can't.”

        Board member Lynn Marmer agreed: “We cannot in good conscience let these schools sit for one more year. The best education sometimes takes place in the worst facilities. We need facilities where the windows open and close and the roofs do not leak.


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- School improvement plan is the third try
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