Tuesday, December 05, 2000

School board updates building plans

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Washington Park School would be demolished and rebuilt at its current location in Over-the-Rhine.

        Sands Montessori would be closed and moved to another existing site.

        A new neighborhood school could be built where Heinold School now stands.

  • Jacobs Center: Renovate for use as a 7-12 Paideia school.

        • Schwab, Winton Place and Winton Montessori: Look at student enrollment and redistricting possibilities. Look at ways to expand Montessori space and increase student access to neighborhood school.
  • North Avondale: Renovate and expand to get rid of the annex and provide more space.
  • Rockdale: Renovate and expand to replace two outbuildings. Designate as a community school.
  • Rothenberg: Close. Look at redistricting of students, should this school be closed after a new Washington Park School is built.
  • Sands: Close building and move program to another site.
  • Washington Park: Demolish and replace with a new building.
  • Douglass: Renovate and consider as a redesigned year-round neighborhood school.
  • Roll Hill, North Fairmount, Heinold: After the renovation of Roll Hill, Heinold students will relocate there. A new school would be built at the Heinold site. Once Heinold is completed, North Fairmount would close.
  • Millvale: Replace with a new building, possibly on land owned by Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority.
  • Whittier Annex: Consider site for a new school to ease crowding at other schools in the area.

        Cincinnati Public School officials and architects Monday discussed these building recommendations in meetings with Board of Education members, principals, parents and community members. Those sessions outlined how projects will proceed.

        The suggestions are updates to the district's February 1999 Master Facilities Plan, which outlines needs and plans for the district's 75 schools.

        Overall, buildings need $700 million in repairs and upgrades, according to previous studies.

        “Things have changed,” Superintendent Steven Adamowski said. “We want to look at the whole picture again.”

        What's new: The district hired a master architect to coordinate construction and renovation projects. The district is eligible for thousands of construction dollars from the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

        What needs to happen: a school-by-school assessment of building condition, education programs and needs, to determine the priority of projects. A separate master plan will be created by the state to figure out how much money the district will receive.

        Wanda Crockett, a project administrator with the state facilities commission, said every district has different building needs.

        “Our overall goal is to create equity across the state,” she said.

        Within the Cincinnati district, teams of architects will meet with school, community and parent members at each school, beginning in January. That process will continue through the fall.

        Information collected at those meetings will help determine project priority.

        Kent Cashell, district business executive, said priority will be determined by four factors: building capacity; crowded conditions, use of modular classrooms and unmet demand; ways to serve the same student population with fewer schools; and financial partnerships opportunities with other agencies and private foundations or businesses.

        Board member Catherine Ingram does not want a school's abilities to generate funds from private donors to determine the priority for projects.

        “We have to be careful because some schools will be able to do this better than others,” Ms. Ingram said.

        Even the passage of a 6-mill operating tax levy in November changes some plans, Mr. Cashell said. With money available now to create small classes of 17 students each in grades K-3, the district must create the space to house additional classes.

        News that Washington Park could close was not new for Principal Viola Jackson. But she was thrilled to learn the district could build a new school at the site.

        “That would be great because we don't lose our close ness to the city,” Ms. Jackson said. “We have mentors who come from their jobs downtown. ... Parents have been fighting for this.”

        It also means students could continue to walk to a neighborhood school. Rebuilt, the schoolwould be a modern building with air conditioning and easy access.

        Michael Burson, district facilities manager, said the facilities plan is geared toward creating the best possible schools.

        He said that a building like McKinley, the oldest school in the district, would be difficult to upgrade to “suit it to our educational needs of today.”

        That's why plans are in the works to build a new K-12 school in the East End that would serve students from McKinley and Linwood schools.

        While board member Lynn Marmer said she did not want specific types of education programs to determine building design, Monday's meetings did prompt discussions about how to meet the demand for more Montessori schools and an elementary math and science school.

        “We've discussed these issues for at least two years,” Ms. Marmer said.

        “We need to decide where we will put these programs to meet customer demand.”


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