Sunday, November 05, 2000

Lebanon schools to prioritize

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The October community forum Lebanon schools held to develop a master school facilities plan was full of grand possibilities, but participants will have to make tough decisions at Monday's forum.

        Last month, about 250 participants told district officials what programs, new buildings, renovations and more they would like to see for the decade to come.

        “The big question is, how much will the community be willing to support,” said Superintendent Bill Sears.

        Thirty-eight groups from the forum and more than 200 people filled out individual questionnaires on topics such as:

        • Condition of school buildings and whether they should be renovated or rebuilt.

        • Importance of providing computer systems, multimedia and Internet access.

        • Ideal population for each school building and ideal class size and grade configuration.

        • Suggested programs the district should offer, such as preschool.

        • Average time students should spend on bus traveling to and from school.

        The district also is conducting a random phone poll of residents to solicit responses from people who might not attend the forums.

        Community forums pro vide a means for citizens to be part of the district's decisions on new facilities and programs, Mr. Sears said. The forums, he said, will give the school board an idea of what the community wants, allowing the board to propose building and seek spending that many residents support.

        At the next forum, an architectural firm will be on hand to outline rough costs of new buildings. By the end of the night, Mr. Sears hopes to have more data to take to his Superintendent's Community Council — an advisory group of more than 30 people from various civic organizations.

        The community council will then put together a plan to present to the school board, he said.

        Mike Geygan, owner of Minuteman Press just outside of downtown Lebanon and a member of the Super intendent's Community Council, said he was impressed with the first forum and has high hopes for the second.

        “A solid school district is important to a solid business community,” he said.

        He said it's important for the district to get responses from a broad cross-section, such as from senior citizens and the business community.

        Monday's community forum will begin at 7 p.m. at Lebanon High School on Miller Road.


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