Saturday, October 21, 2000

Fates of 2 old schools undecided

Topic revived in Kings

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The fate of two historic school buildings is again a topic of discussion for the Kings Local school board.

        Board members disagree whether the century-old portions of Kings Mills and South Lebanon elementaries should both be demolished or if one can be saved.

        The two schools are being replaced by two new buildings through a $23.5 million bond issue the district passed in May 1999. The new Kings Mills Elementary will be built on 16 acres across the street from the existing school on Kings Mills Road, while the new South Lebanon Elementary is planned for a 16-acre site along Ohio 48, just outside of South Lebanon.

        The school district allotted a total of $1.1 million to refurbish and possibly demolish parts of the two schools.

        The board plans to turn over South Lebanon Elementary to the village of South Lebanon. Village leaders want to turn the school into a community recreation facility with swimming pools, said Village Administrator John Louallen.

        Village leaders also want to establish a library there, which would be the only library in the tiny village, Mr. Louallen said.

        The older portion of the school, which dates to the early 1900s, would be demolished and replaced by a parking lot.

        “It's in terrible shape,” Mr. Louallen said. “It would cost more to redo that than would be worthwhile.”

        The school board is considering allotting $250,000 of the $1.1 million decommissioning money to refurbish the newer portion of that school. Village officials have no estimates on the costs for the library and recreation center, Mr. Louallen said.

        Though the building transfer is in the works, formal action by the school board has not been taken, said Superintendent David Query. The school is still being used; the new South Lebanon Elementary is expected to open next fall despite recent delays.

        On Tuesday, the school board also addressed what it would like to do with the older portion of Kings Mills Elementary, which dates to the late 19th century. One option would transform the second floor into a central administration building. Currently, the superintendent and other administrators have offices in the junior high school and high school.

        A proposal by board member Del Landis to save the historic building concerned board member Becky Holloway.

        “It tugs at your heart strings,” Ms. Holloway said. “But we know we have to be consistent.”

        To save one of the historic buildings and not the other would not be fair to the villagers of South Lebanon, she said.

        Mr. Query said the board may decide to preserve the older structure at Kings Mills for at least a year in case the student population grows.

        The board also listened to options offered by the school construction project manager, Terry Wilson of Fanning/Howey Associates out of Celina.

        Mr. Wilson estimated renovation of that building between about $750,000 and $1.1 million , depending on what the board deems necessary.


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