Tuesday, April 10, 2001

CPS takes second look at assisting school for troubled




By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A charter school the Cincinnati Board of Education turned down in 1999 is again under consideration to receive a contract to operate as a district-sponsored school.

        The Dohn Community High School, which has a five-year contract with the Ohio Department of Education, would support abstinence from drugs and alcohol and promote recovery from substance abuse. The district expels 175 students a year for drug and alcohol abuse. The Dohn School would serve that population.

        Dohn School Superintendent Kate Bower told board members Monday that her board wants to lease the McMillan Center building from the district, but can't get a loan to renovate the building without a mortgage on the property.

        The school is not operating but plans to start classes this fall.

        It has private donations to cover program costs but does not have the $300,000 needed to buy the building, or the $265,000 needed to make renovations.

        “When these kids are excluded from school, there are very few alternatives for them,” Ms. Bower said. “We have a problem in our community. You have a solution in the form of a building that is only a liability to you.”

        Ms. Bower asked the board to consider a purchase option suggested by board member Lynn Marmer that would give the Dohn School title to the building under a 10-year payment plan.

        The Dohn School would pay $30,000 a year.

        If the school ended its contract with the state and became authorized by the school district, it would receive $140,000 from the district to help cover costs.

        Specifics will be discussed by the school board's facilities committee April 19.

        Some board members, however, said they were concerned with rushing to help a charter school, which operates with state and private money but is exempt from most state education regulations.

        Board member Florence Newell said she can't put the needs of students the Dohn School would serve before the needs of students in the district's other high schools.

        “Because of the great needs of all students in the district and the fact that Western Hills, Withrow and Woodward high schools would get nothing next year, I am frustrated with the idea of not doing something for that large number of students,” Mrs. Newell said.

        David Logan, the executive director of Prospect House, an adult residential treatment center, said the Dohn School is needed.

        “It's a lot more economical and better to get at this problem earlier.”

        The Dohn School must find a building by June. Ms. Bower said she will send the charter back to the state if the issue is not resolved by May 1.

       



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