Monday, January 29, 2001

West side students have more choices

Reshuffling worth hassle, parents say

By Patrick Stack
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Despite being occasionally strapped for space, students and teachers on Cincinnati's west side are looking forward to an increase in school options.

        Under a plan to provide parents with more choice in the Cincinnati Public Schools, four schools on the west side — Western Hills High School, Gilbert A. Dater High School, Carson Montessori and Carson Neighborhood School — are being renovated, changing buildings or trading locations.

        To accommodate the changes, however, some of the schools have had to increase class sizes or move students to outside locations during the reorganization.

        But school officials and parents say it's worth it to reach their goals for more local school options.

        “(Parents) want their children in the neighborhood and getting a quality education,” said Dater High PTA president Shirley Klein.

Carson Montessori
               At Carson Montessori on Glenway Avenue, parents and teachers are looking forward to the school's move to the former Dater Junior High building on Boudinot Avenue after renovations there are completed this summer.

        The school will then be renamed Dater Montessori and will have more room for students, Principal Maureen Murphy-Lintz said.

        But with the popularity of the Montessori program leading to increased enrollment this year, Carson had to find room for some of its 510 students outside the school building, which holds 400 to 480 students.

        Two classes in the 6-to-9 age group, totaling about 50 students, study in rented rooms in nearby Price Hill Baptist Church. The school has handled the added location without too much trou ble, Mrs. Murphy-Lintz said.

        The classes at the church are fully outfitted for the Montessori curriculum, and students are served lunch at the church, reducing the number of times they have to travel between buildings.

        “It hasn't really been a problem,” Mrs. Murphy-Lintz said.

        Keymonte Crooms of Price Hill, whose son Taj attends Carson Montessori, said the school needs the larger facilities on Boudinot, but renting space in the church was a good temporary solution.

        “I didn't have a problem with it, even if Taj was one of the ones over there,” he said.

Carson Neighborhood
               Carson Neighborhood School and Dater High School, both in their first year, have also faced space issues.

        Parents have responded positively to Carson Neighborhood School, located this year in the Dater Junior High building on Boudinot, and enrollment at the new K-8 school has exceeded expectations, Principal Claire Kubiak said. About 520 students attend the school, which next year will move into the current Carson Montessori building on Glenway.

        For the first half of the year, students at Carson School had to share space with about 570 students from Dater High School, who were waiting to move into their new location in Western Hills High School's renovated vocational building.

        Carson students took most of the second floor, while Dater students occupied the first floor and the rest of the second-floor classrooms. Some Carson classes had 35 or more students in a room, Ms. Kubiak said.

        “We were cramped, but it was doable,” she said.

        Mrs. Klein agreed.

        “It was OK to do that for four months,” she said. “It wasn't the best situation, but I think the cooperation (between the two schools) was good.”

Dater High
               Students at Dater High School moved into their new quarters in January, and Carson set up an additional five classrooms to reduce class sizes to about 20 students, Ms. Kubiak said.

        But Carson Neighborhood will face another squeeze when it moves into the building on Glenway, which holds fewer students than currently attend Carson.

        Ms. Kubiak said the school plans to lease space at the church as Carson Montessori has done. CPS is considering expanding the Montessori building, CPS business executive Kent Cashell said.

        At Dater, where students have been in the location less than a month, the renovated facilities suit the school well, science teacher Bruce Ellis said.

        “They took care in developing the building to the way we wanted it,” he said.

        Students who test into college prep classes now have another school option: Dater.

        Cedric Foy, 16, a 10th-grader from Price Hill in the college prep program at Dater, chose the school over Walnut Hills, an all-college-prep school, because he liked the teachers and the convenience.

        “It's easier to get to school,” he said. “I don't have to get up at 4 a.m.”

        The school currently has grades seven through 10, and hopes to add 11th- and 12th-grade curricula as the 10th-graders progress, Principal Beverly Eby said.

        Western Hills High School also added 16 classrooms with the completion of basement renovations during the Thanksgiving break.

        Administrators are happy with the renovated spaces, which were formerly industrial arts classrooms and now are equipped with Internet ports, Principal Thomas Shaver said.

        “They look like 21st century classrooms,” he said.


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