Thursday, June 22, 2000

Students choose old school

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — There may be more teen-agers returning to Middletown High School from Lemon-Monroe High School this fall than educators originally predic ted.

        The Monroe Local Schools planned for 1,000 students in grades 7-12, which included Monroe students and those from Middletown and other areas who would probably continue at the school through open enrollment. They would be housed in Lemon-Monroe High School and if needed, in trailers at the site.

        Voters in March approved the creation of a new Monroe local district that was carved from the Middletown-Monroe Schools and a small part of the Lebanon Schools. Because of the split, the Monroe board offered open enrollment so that students could finish high school where they started.

        But numbers now show the enrollment will be closer to 850 students at Lemon-Monroe and could go lower

        depending on the final decision on busing. Plans to add portable classrooms at Lemon-Monroe High School have been scrapped.

        “Of the eligible students only about half applied for open enrollment,” said Edmund Pokora, treasurer of the Middletown/Monroe Schools and a member of the transition team. “Only 29 percent of the eligible freshmen applied.”

        Of the 636 Middletown students eligible to apply for open enrollment under Monroe's guidelines, only 352 — or 55 percent — chose to do so, Mr. Pokora said. Of those who applied for open enrollment, 144 need transportation.

        “Almost three-fourths of the kids already there want to continue but less than one-third wanted to start there,” Mr. Pokora said.

        That's not surprising, said Dan Hare, interim superintendent of the Monroe Schools. Older students have more vested in the school and are more likely than younger students to either drive themselves to school, or ride with friends.

        “The longer they've been there the more ties they have,” Mr. Hare said.

        By grade level for the 2000-01 school year, 64 of the 221 eligible freshmen applied; 117 of 173 sophomores, 106 of 158 juniors, and 65 of 84 seniors applied for admission to Lemon-Monroe, Mr. Pokora said.

        If the students who applied to attend Lemon-Monroe meet the criteria, they will likely be admitted, Mr. Hare said. Bus routes have not been prepared yet but there are plans to offer some service through centralized pickup points for students in the Middle town area. Those points have not yet been determined.

        “We're anticipating more than 284 students returning, but not a lot,” Mr. Pokora said. “Maybe 5-10 percent more.”

        The Middletown Schools are readying eight to 10 classrooms at Manchester Technical Center for the additional high school students. The district's lease with the Butler County Joint Vocational School District — which had been renting the school — ends this month and the building returns to the Middletown Schools.


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