Saturday, September 04, 1999
Cleanup causes school shuffle
Whitaker students using 3 buildings
BY CHRISTINE WOLFF
The Cincinnati Enquirer
SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP The school year begins with a twist for Whitaker Elementary students: They visit their school for only a few minutes each morning, then head elsewhere for classes.
Whitaker students will spend at least this month following that pattern, while renovations and asbestos cleanupare completed at the Winton Road building.
Until then, the temporary home for Whitaker's 350 students will be three locations Cottonwood and Brent elementary schools and Northminster Presbyterian Church. Students meet in Whitaker's parking lot each morning, then ride buses to where classes are held.
Scott Ledyard's class of Whitaker third-graders are set up for class in the Cottonwood gymnasium. Partitions separate his students from two other third-grade classes and an area for Whitaker's educational aides.
The makeshift classroom in the high-roofed gymnasium is surprisingly serene, with colorful posters decorating the walls and the loud est noise coming from an electric pencil sharpener.
It's actually quieter than last year. Now we have kids' voices making noise instead of bulldozers making noise, Mr. Ledyard said. We stressed to students, "This is Whitaker at Cottonwood.' We talk about what Whitaker rules are and how they work at Cottonwood.
Whitaker students studied through a school year of ren ovations after work began in July '98. The school is getting a new gymnasium, facade and entry, and renovations to the rear classroom wing.
Work was to be completed in August but was delayed this summer when asbestos was disturbed, requiring the cleanup. Asbestos, a fire-retardant material no longer used in construction, is harmful if its fibers are breathed in.
Officials with the Finneytown school district had about five weeks to find a solution. No empty building in the district was large enough to hold everyone, so the move into three locations was the only option, said Deb Semenick, Whitaker's principal.
Northminster is providing space at no charge in its lower level for Whitaker's kindergarten and first grade. Second- and third-graders go to Cottonwood, and fourth- and fifth-graders go to Brent, with temporary classroom spaces created in the gyms and libraries.
Everybody's worked pretty hard, and it has showed, Ms. Semenick said. I knew whatever challenges my teachers faced, they could make it happen.
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