Thursday, January 25, 2001

Hamilton students welcome $150M school rebuilding plan




By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — Students and former students who have dodged falling ceiling tiles and endured dusty, sweltering (or chilly) classrooms greeted Hamilton City Schools' rebuilding plan with cheers Wednesday.

        “I say "yes!' for the new schools,” said Marlene Horton, recalling conditions at Fillmore Elementary, which she attended in the 1980s. “I've been to schools here and they're pretty old.”

        Tyler Belew, now in seventh grade, remembers how ceiling tiles would fall in Fillmore's classrooms, especially after a hard rain.

        “It would be good for the elementaries to be redone. Everything would be up to date,” Tyler said. “I know they're old because my dad went to Fillmore.”

        Superintendent Janet Baker is recommending a master-facilities plan that would replace Fillmore - and the district's other 13 elementary schools - with nine state-of-the-art buildings. It would be the most ambitious and expensive construction project in the district's history.

        It also would be the first major improvements since the 1950s, when Hamilton High, Garfield Junior High, Monroe Elementary and Cleveland Elementary were built.

        The Hamilton school board heard details Tuesday night, but won't take action until after three public hearings in coming weeks.

        In addition to rebuilding elementary schools, the plan would shift ninth-graders into a freshman school, leaving seventh- and eighth-graders at two junior high schools.

        The plan carries a hefty price tag: $150 million, which would be shared by Hamilton residents and the state through the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

        Founded in 1997, the commission provides funds for districts to make repairs to schools or rebuild them based on a formula that takes into consideration resi dents' income, enrollment and property values.

        Under the formula, Hamilton is ranked 246th of 612 districts and would be eligible for funds in 2004-2006. The state would cover about 60 percent of the costs; Hamilton would pay the rest.

        Hamilton's share of the project would come from a $45 million bond issue approved in 1999.

       



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