Thursday, November 30, 2000

Sycamore to build school on college campus


Elementary to share space with Raymond Walters

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BLUE ASH — Sycamore School District is expected to build a new Blue Ash Elementary School on the campus of Raymond Walters College in time for the 2002-03 school year.

        The school board will likely approve the arrangement Wednesdayfollowing the Uni versity of Cincinnati Board of Trustees' approval of a lease agreement Tuesday.

        Under the agreement, Sycamore will lease 11 acres for $10 a year, in exchange for building an Adult Education Wing with four classrooms that Raymond Walters and UC students can use. The term of the lease is for 50 years with possible renewal for 25 years.

        “This is a real exciting adventure for the school district and university,” said Sycamore Superintendent Karen Mantia. “When I look at this whole situation I think of people who are able to look outside the box and look at ways of delivering education in different settings. We do not know of any elementary school that is situated in that kind of setting in the United States.”

        The K-4 school will be located on the southeast corner of the 132-acre campus, just off of Plainfield Road and south of the college's parking lot. Estimated cost is $10.7 million. About 7,000 of the 80,000 square feet is dedicated to the Adult Education Wing.

        The old Blue Ash Elementary, home to 505 students this year, will be sold.

        Sycamore School District voters in 1998 approved a $45 million bond issue for new buildings and renovating facilities. Sycamore needed a new Blue Ash Elementary, the superintendent said, but land is scarce in Blue Ash.

        Mary Stagaman, director of college relations at Raymond Walters, said the city informed the college that Sycamore was looking for a site.

        “We have the biggest amount of undeveloped land in the city of Blue Ash, except of course for the airport property,” she said. “We really are thrilled about it. We like to think of ourselves as being of and for the community.”

        As part of the agreement, the university will collaborate with the district in offering part of its professional development program as credit courses for teachers. Sycamore will build a playing field to be shared by both schools.

        Raymond Walters will make good use of the Adult Education Wing at Blue Ash Elementary. In addition to the 50 majors it offers, Raymond Walters has upper level undergraduate and graduate level classes from UC. And this spring, Raymond Walters is adding a new weekend degree program, which may use some space in the elementary school.

        “Those four classrooms in the new Blue Ash School will allow us to expand those offerings here on campus because we're filled up every night of the week right now,” Ms. Stagaman said.

       



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