Sunday, December 10, 2000

Residents in Monroe get say on aging school

Educators plan meeting to seek community opinion

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

        MONROE — When Sue Brower Goodpaster graduated from Lemon-Monroe High School 18 years ago, she remembered the building as run-down.

        Structurally, little has been done since then to modernize the school that was built in 1912 and added on to in 1922, 1948, 1952, 1954 and 1966.

        Except for emergency repairs and cosmetic fixes, the building has been untouched.

        Now educators in the 5-month-old Monroe Local Schools want to ask the community a single question: What next?

        “We want to take our time to do it right, whatever we do,” said board member Suzi Rubin, who fought for five years to form the district by separating from the Middletown Schools.

        “The building is old and has been patched together. There are several heating systems, roof problems. We knew the building needed help.”

        For several weeks, the district's facilities committee has been working with architects Steed-Hammond-Paul Inc. on enrollment projections, updating figures on repairing the district's two schools and reviewing criteria from the Ohio Facilities Commission to see what projects might qualify for state dollars.

        After a presentation Tuesday on that work, residents will be asked their opinions on several ideas:

        Should there be a central campus for grades kindergarten to 12 with one or more buildings? Should just a new school be built for grades 7-12?

        Should the district team with city, business and community organizations to build a YMCA, library or medical facility at the same location? Is land available, or should the district use the existing property?

        “Over the next 10 years, we'll grow to a moderate-sized school district of about 2,500,” said Superintendent Arnol Elam. “We're not going to grow by leaps and bounds. We think there will be steady growth of about 1,000 students over 10 years.”

        The cost to bring the high school up to standards would be about $18 million. That's about the same cost to build new, Mr. Elam said. He said the goal is to have a master plan and construction package ready to put on the ballot next November.

        “Let the community tell us what they want and we'll design around it,” Mr. Elam said.

        Mrs. Goodpaster said she would support construction provided it is affordable to all residents, particularly those on fixed incomes and senior citizens.

        “I am embarrassed by the condition of the (high) school. We've reached a point where safety is an issue,” Mrs. Goodpaster said.

        “This is almost like a rebirth for us. We're in control of our destiny. We can start from scratch.

        “I don't think Monroe (citizens will) go for glitz or glitter. We want something nice but modest. We want a new start.”


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- Residents in Monroe get say on aging school