Thursday, November 02, 2000

Monroe schools growing

Enrollment could double, officials say

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MONROE — If preliminary enrollment estimates are accurate, the Monroe Local Schools would grow by 500 students over the next decade, and more than double today's 1,542 enrollment by 2020.

        To make room for those expected students, the Facilities Committee will spend the next several months working with architects Steed-Hammond-Paul Inc. to study the district's two schools, determine what should be done, get community suggestions and present recommendations to the school board.

        The goal, Superintendent Arnol Elam said, would be to have a package ready for the November 2001 ballot.

        “It's a tight schedule. A lot of work needs to be done. It's very, very challenging,” said Don Pelfrey, who is co-chairing the group with Steve Campbell, the district's director of facilities and operations.

        “I think we're getting ready to enter an exciting era,” Mr. Elam told the group during a preliminary meeting this week.

        But it won't be easy, committee members say. Because Monroe is a new school district, there has been no determination of the district's debt limit and no bond rating; and when the district may be eligible for matching funds from the Ohio School Facilities Commission is unknown, Mr. Elam said.

        Nevertheless, the architects have updated the 1997 estimated cost to upgrade Lemon-Monroe High School, Monroe Elementary and Monroe Memorial Stadium.

        If the same work was done today as was identified three years ago, it would cost $18.7 million at the high school, $3.9 million at the elementary and $873,764 for the stadium.

        Architects should have enrollment projections ready by the end of November, Mr. Elam said.

        The firm is also examining and recording data from every room in both schools to determine what they're being used for, what the need is and the capacity.

        Mr. Campbell said a topography map is being prepared and a property survey worked on.

        But it will be up to committee members in consultation with the community and architects to use the data to answer several questions: Renovate or build new? Where? Campus style or neighborhood elementary schools? What should be done with current buildings? Should facilities be built in conjunction with other organizations such as the library, city or YMCA?

        “Most of our need is going to be at the elementary or junior school level,” said Virgil Maines, who did enrollment studies in preparation for the split from the Middletown Schools.


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