Tuesday, March 27, 2001

School board cheered, chastised over projects

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Parents from two Cincinnati Public Schools programs applauded board action Monday to move forward with facilities projects, while parents from two other schools asked for more discussions about the future of their schools.

        The board unanimously approved a list of eight proj ects — eventually, the board will act on projects involving all 77 schools — that include exploring alternative sites for Sands Montessori and renovating Porter School to house a grade 4-8 Cincinnati Academy of Math and Science (CAMAS) program.

        Three parents from Hyde Park School — one site being considered for Sands Montessori — said they were upset they were not notified their school might close. One parent said the board did not consider the feelings of parents.

        “You are all operating as a school board, not as parents,” parent Valeisa George said. “It's hurtful since we took time out of our schedules and teachers took time out of their personal schedules to make im provements at the school.”

        At the same time, a contingent of more than 30 parents from Sands thanked the board for putting Sands' new location on the fast track.

        “I've been in the district for three years, and the only constant is the uncertainty with Sands' location,” parent Tim DeLong said. “Everyone at the school supports the move.”

        A dozen parents cheered and held up signs reading “Thank You” after the board voted to renovate Porter for a 4-8 CAMAS program. CAMAS is now housed at Jacobs Center.

        And a group of 15 parents from Crest Hills School presented the board with a list of parents opposed to the possibility of replacing the year-round school with a military academy.

        Rick Beck, Cincinnati Federation of Teachers president, told the board that the lack of a definite restructuring plan for the entire district — and the lack of community engagement in making facilities decisions — is making parents and teachers nervous.

        “At Crest Hills, I'm not sure how many teachers will be there next year from this year,” Mr. Beck said. “They are being told they may close soon.”

        Board member Harriet Russell said the board knows it needs to get the word out.

        “We are aware that we have to provide a sense of direction and improve our communications with parents and the communities in the district,” Ms. Russell said.

        The board approved these eight projects:

        • Window and door replace ments at 31 schools.

        • Renovation of Porter Schoolfor the CAMAS program, to open in August 2002.

        • Cosmetic renovations of about $450,000 at the Boudinot Avenue Dater building to house the Carson Montessori program.

        • Renovations at the Carson Montessori building to house a neighborhood school.

        • Renovations and an expansion at Rockdale School to provide more classroom space and a health center in partnership with Children's Hospital Medical Center.

        • Exploration of alternative sites for Sands Montessori.

        • Renovations at Taft High School to house an information technology program for juniors and seniors, beginning in August. Aiken High School renovations, which include a new roof, paving and new stadium lights.

        • Evaluation of the Whittier Annex site to determine whether an elementary school could be built where the former Considine School now stands.

        Superintendent Steven Adamowski said his staff will now begin studies and talks with parents and community members regarding the eight approved projects.

        In other business, the board approved contracts with America's Choice, a nonprofit consultant that will help the district redesign four high schools.

        America's Choice will start working with staff at Aiken, Taft, Western Hills and Withrow in April on everything from curriculum design to teacher training.


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