Sunday, August 20, 2000

Lucky pupils in new digs

Builders race to finish schools

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        As most Tristate students prepare to return to classrooms in the next two weeks, school districts and construction crews are rushing to complete construction before the bell rings.

        Teachers in some districts are nervous.

        “They (had) only two days to get their rooms ready,” said David Thompson, principal at North Pointe Elementary School in Hebron, Ky. It opened Thursday.

        “Guys (were) in here until 11 or 12 at night, moving furniture and waxing the floors.”

        Here are some of the pleasant surprises students will encounter this year:

        • Little Miami High School, Warren County's Hamilton Township: It is to be used by the community and its 700 ninth- through 12th-graders. The auditorium, cafeteria and gym are housed in a special-events wing that can be closed off from classrooms and other academic space.

        Everyone played a part in designing the school, right down to the colors on the walls and floors.

        “There's a lot of ownership in this building,” Principal Bob Bixler said.

        The $15.6 million building recalls traditional brick buildings (like those on Miami University's Oxford campus), with large, modern windows and a second-floor hallway suspended in the middle of a large atrium.

        The new space should handle the district's growth of 75 to 100 students a year, but it was designed to allow the addition of more classrooms when needed.

        Security features include 20 cameras and a main door that forces all visitors to enter through the office.

        “It's neat for us to have this, because we haven't been known for having new stuff,” student government President Missy Hurley said. “This will give (us) more school spirit and pride.”

        Student government mem bers will give tours next week.

        Doors open Sept. 5.

        • Loveland Intermediate School: It had a “soft” opening three weeks ago, when students arrived for summer-school classes. Work still must be completed before the Sept. 6 opening day.

        The $10 million school is part of the district's two-phase restructuring. About 600 students in fifth and sixth grade will use the new building. That frees up space in existing elementary schools and the middle school.

        “We believe the school is unique in that this is the result of a community-wide effort to look at the (district's) total needs,” Superintendent Michael Cline said.

        The district sees about 100 additional students a year.

        Voters approved a bond issue to build the new school and agreed to spend $20 million on other renovations and repairs. Parent Sue Peterson lobbied hard for that ballot measure.

        “It's wonderful that the voters supported it,” she said. “We are real pleased, because it was get ting crowded.”

        • Springboro Elementary: The new building was actually ready for students this time last year, but a failed operating levy kept the school closed.

        That meant very crowded classrooms — with 811 students in one building.

        When Springboro Elementary opens Sept. 5, 545 fourth- and fifth-graders will be in the remodeled, redesigned 1929 building.

        The building looks like an ultra-modern school after $4.2 million transformed what was once a high school into an intermediate building, Principal Sandy Wray said.

        The boys locker room is now the music room. The girls locker room is a teachers' lounge. The original library is once again a media center.

        “We have space to breathe, space to do extra things,” Ms. Wray said.

        • Edgewood City School's Babeck Elementary, in Trenton: A renovation has nearly doubled the size of the Butler County building.

        The school will open with 500 students. Growing at about 130 new students a year, the district needed the extra room, said Tom York, assistant superintendent.

        “The projection was that this would hold us for a few years, but we just don't know,” he said. “It depends on the future development of the district.”

        Next year, the district will add a 20-classroom wing to its high school.

        As contractors finish electrical and heating work, teachers are scrambling to get their materials in order, and the custodial staff is doing a major cleaning.

        Doors open Aug. 29.

        • North Pointe Elementary, Hebron: It was built to hold 750 students. It started the school year Thursday with 488.

        The $7.9 million school is the second new elementary opened by the district in three years. The district expands by roughly 500 students a year.

        “You can put all the new buildings and all the new floors in you want, but it still gets back to who those people are in the classroom,” Mr. Thompson said. “We're here for the kids.”

Tristate schools set to open
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