Thursday, March 15, 2001

Push on to pass school levy

Voters defeated two earlier tries

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MILFORD — Third-grader Joshua Woodruff, 10, covered his mouth with one hand and waved at Principal Donald Baker with the other while he waited this week in the “silent hallway” at Charles L. Seipelt Elementary.

        The motion was one Mr. Baker teaches all students as they pass through that hall. He wants them to avoid making noise and disturbing students in four thin-walled temporary rooms, which were converted from a library this school year to offer more instructional space in the cramped school.

[photo] With no room for a lunchroom at Charles L. Seipelt Elementary, students have to eat at their desks. The Milford school district will ask voters in May for a tax increase to ease crowding.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
        Similar space crunches are acute throughout the 5,800-student Milford Exempted Village School District, where residents have twice voted down bond issues — in March and August — for new schools and building renovations.

        Superintendent John Frye and the school board are asking voters to approve a two-phase building plan, developed with input from five community forums. Voters will decide May 8 on a $43.6 million bond issue for the first phase.

        “There is a recognition in the community that the need is urgent,” said Milford resident Jason Sims, who serves on the school district's 17-member bond issue steering committee of parents, teachers, school board members, students and community leaders.

        While proponents don't know what to expect in May, they have converted a staunch opponent of the last two bond issues — a man whose group canvassed 10,000 homes and mailed out 5,000 brochures voicing their opposition to the August bond issue.

        Randy Kleine of Milford said he favors the new plan, which calls for the construction of smaller, neighborhood elementary schools.

        “We never opposed the bond issue because of money,” he said. “We opposed the bond issue because of what was being presented.”

        The first phase includes replacing Milford South and Miami elementary schools and Milford Main Middle School, and building another elementary school.

        School officials will ask residents May 8 to pass a 4.1-mill property tax increase estimated to cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $125 in annual property taxes.

        A marketing campaign for the bond issue began in late February with a speaking engagement at Milford South Elementary School by Mr. Frye. The talks will increase to more than a dozen in the next few weeks.

        “It's critical,” said Milford Main Middle School Principal Gary Gardella, who works in a building where about 800 students share two bathrooms. “We've managed to fit everybody, but it's less than ideal.”

        Even secretaries and bus drivers will get lessons on the fundamentals of the bond issue, because they may be answering parents' questions, Mr. Frye said.

        Next up? Knocking on doors, mailings and more speaking engagements.

        A formal campaign kickoff is scheduled April 7 at a location yet to be confirmed, Mr. Frye said.

        Space in the district's schools is tight because of an enrollment increase of 191 students in the past three years, Mr. Frye said. Projections call for an average of 50 additional students per year over the next 10 years.

        Some buildings are outdated and need to be replaced, says a study by the Ohio School Facilities Commission. The commission recommended replacing Miami, South and Main, and renovating and expanding Smith and Milford junior and senior high schools. The commission also recommended replacing Seipelt, but school officials are working to negotiate its continued use.

        Other examples of the district's space constrictions:

        • At Charles L. Seipelt Elementary, students have been eating lunch at their desks for about two decades, since the cafeteria was removed to make way for a library. The library this year was transported to the stage of the former music room so that space could be divided into four classrooms.

        • At Milford Main Middle School, modular classrooms will be added next year to the 1912 school building, a music room is being divided into classrooms and a paper storage area has been converted into a special education classroom.

        • At Miami Elementary School, the ceiling in the 1929 building is cracking where technology upgrades are being added; metal supports were added Friday.

        • At Milford South Elementary, built in 1957, children have to go outside to the library, which is housed in a modular building; a student services coordinator shares work space in a 6-by-6-foot area with an air-conditioning unit.

Suit claims 30 years of bias by city police
Case statements
Vote defeats ban on same-sex rites
Candidate donations out in open
PULFER: Barbie's boy toy
Sierra Club admits flawed study
Sinn Fein official raises funds for IRA political arm
State DNA database leads to rape charge
W. Chester OKs 'village'
Hamilton uses $300K grant for low-rent housing
Lebanon wavers on rentals law
Neighbors say meeting about tower just show
OxyContin plan in Ky. is 3-way
Police target builder thefts
- Push on to pass school levy
Taft calls school-funding truce
2 in Cleveland contract Legionnaires' disease
'Blue Dogs' push for reform
City won't give funds to Community Council
Dayton campus is sole U.S. host for religious art show
Disease closes Brown Co. shelter
Get on this bus, get a clue for life
Hospital cited for troubles in ICUs
Serviceman killed in Kuwait survived Ft. Campbell crash
Short Story Festival to be at UC next month
Tristate A.M. Report