Monday, December 18, 2000

Survey will seek input on projects for schools

Monroe district prepares master construction plan

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MONROE — Families in the Monroe Local Schools will be surveyed early next year to gauge their opinions on what should be done to improve facilities.

        Superintendent Arnol Elam said the survey will be conducted to give the Facilities Committee, board of education and administrators as much information as possible before a master facilities plan is drawn up for this 5-month-old district. Not yet decided is whether educators will do the work themselves or seek assistance from marketing consultants or area universities.

        A report released this week by architects Steed-Hammond-Paul Inc. puts a $23.6 million price tag on repairs needed to bring Lemon-Monroe High School, Monroe Elementary and Monroe Memorial Stadium up to educational standards, Mr. Elam said. The cost does not include money for structural repairs, or to bring the stadium into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, said Steve Campbell, the district's director of facilities and operations.

        But it estimated costs to build new schools at between $28.1 million and $30.9 million depending on the configuration, using standards from the Ohio Facilities Commission. The low figure includes a new school for grades 7-12 plus renovations to the elementary school. The highest cost would be for one school to serve all grades. The middle estimate would build two schools.

        “We know we've got to add more space,” Mr. Elam said. “We think we can build cheaper (than estimates) and have outstanding facilities, but we have to find out what our community wants.”

        School board member Suzi Rubin said one factor, should the district decide to build new schools, would be where to put them. The present location is in the center of Monroe.

        “The challenge — if we move — is to find a site nearby. There's a lot of sentiment for that site. There's been a school there 150 years.”

        Mr. Elam said he hopes to bring a plan with several options to board members in February to give them plenty of time to discuss the options and hold community forums before a final master plan is adopted and a bond issue put together for the November ballot.

        So far, Mr. Campbell said, he has spent $425,000 on the two schools to comply with fire, building and board of health codes. Work has included patching roofs, installing fire alarms, stopping the pooling of water in the lower locker room, boiler room and main switch-gear room at the high school, and some ADA work.

        “We spent $300,000 more than I ever intended to spend,” Mr. Campbell said. “It's not prudent putting that kind of money into a building we may only be using for five more years. I'd rather put it into education, but making it safe is something we have to do.”

        The architects' report also lowered enrollment estimates from preliminary figures educators have been using, Mr. Elam said. It put the district's student population at 1,600 — not including students who enrolled from neighboring districts — by 2010. The enrollment is now just under 1,500, with about 400 students from neighboring communities enrolled in the high school. Most of those students are from Middletown.


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