Friday, January 19, 2001

School leaders outline changes

Buildings, programs likely to grow

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — Three leaders of Hamilton education institutions all brought the same message in their “State of the Union” talks Thursday: Facility and programming changes are on the way.

        Representatives from the Hamilton City Schools, Badin High School and Miami University's Hamilton Campus presented their thoughts on education during a joint meeting of Hamilton's Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce.

        Hamilton Schools Superintendent Janet Baker talked of the long-term master plan for the district that will be unveiled Tuesday . For ev ery 40 cents the district spends for improvements, the state will match with 60 cents provided the projects fit the Ohio School Facilities Commission's criteria. The state has recommended replacing 14 aging Hamilton elementary and junior high schools with 10 new buildings.

        “How could we consider turning our back on an investment with 150 percent?” Mrs. Baker questioned. “The right thing is to design, remodel and build state-of-the art facilities that will take our children into the next century, keeping them competitive.”

        Badin High School, too, will see improvements in its building as the school works through its strategic planning, begun more than a year ago with parent surveys, a feasibility study and a task force.

        “This will give us the tools with which to build,” said Badin Principal Margaret Winkeljohn. “Our parents, students, faculty, staff and support groups are completing surveys this week in which they identify what is important to them and assess how well they feel Badin High School is presently doing — a grade card of sorts.”

        Already, the Badin team has identified three phases. The first would be upgrades to the school to support curriculum changes put in place this year.

        One of the top priorities is to upgrade the 1960s science labs into state-of-the-art laboratories.

        A second phase would include improvements in the arts, while a third would be refurbishing the school's entrance and athletic fields.

        Changes are also in the works for Miami University's Hamilton Campus, where enrollment has grown to 3,033 students, an increase of 8.5 percent from spring 2000, said Jack Rhodes, the campus' executive director. A year ago, enrollment was 2,795, he said.

        The campus is adding a computer information technology program July 1, will bring back nursing by 2004, reduced its tuition by 5 percent and has pledged a two-year freeze on costs, is partnering with the Booker T. Washington Community Center to develop ball fields and has a grant to begin planning for a facility at the old Voice of America site.

        Mr. Rhodes also said freshmen test scores are on the rise, largely due to the education they receive at Badin and Hamilton high schools.

        “They know more about reading, writing, and arithmetic,” Mr. Rhodes said. “We get tremendous raw talent to work with.”


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