Wednesday, August 02, 2000

Middletown schools seek $71M for plan

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — A reorganization plan for the Middletown Schools that keeps neighborhood schools, repairs buildings and adds classrooms to the high school is estimated to cost $71 million.

        The plan is less costly than the $97.4 million proposal rejected by voters in February 1999. That plan included Monroe students and buildings. Last month the Monroe Local Schools began operations as a separate district.

        To pay for the improvements, voters will be asked in November to approve a 4.2-mill combination issue that includes a 2.2-mill bond issue and a 2-mill permanent improvement levy. The two issues, plus $15.5 million from the Ohio Facilities Commission, should pay for the project, said Treasurer Edmund Pokora.

        “There are significant changes from the 1998 recommendation to today,” said Larry Wood, who co-chaired Middletown's Facilities Committee, which revamped the old plan.

        Gone are plans to demolish elementary schools, repair the Monroe schools, or add classrooms to any buildings except Middletown High, where a 22-classroom addition is proposed for the east side of the building. Instead, the plan calls for the district to modernize schools and buy land in the northeast quadrant of the city for either a new elementary or middle school, should it be needed, Mr. Wood said.

        Like the old plan, all elementary schools in the district would house only children in kindergarten through grade 4. Instead of five middle schools for grades 5-8, the revised plan calls for only four: Verity, Vail, Amanda and the former Manchester Technical Center. Verity will open as a middle school this fall, the others by fall 2002 when all the work is complete.

        Under the realignment, students now attending Amanda would be reassigned to Oneida, Taft or McKinley, which become the feeder schools to Amanda when it is converted to a middle school. Taft, McKinley, Jefferson and Roosevelt elementary schools would feed into Vail Middle School. Students from Wildwood, Rosedale and Wilson elementary would go to Manchester for grades 5-8. Verity would become the middle school for students from Creekview and Mayfield elementary schools.

        The tax issues would cost the owner of an $80,000 home about $97 a year, Mr. Pokora said. That's about $48 less than the 1999 bond issue.

        The Middletown Board of Education has until Aug. 24 to place the issue on the ballot.


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