Tuesday, May 22, 2001

School-site delay angers Sands parents

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Parents of Sands Montessori students were infuriated, while parents of Academy of World Languages students were relieved, when no decision was made Monday on their schools' locations.

        The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education unanimously tabled a vote Monday to relocate the Sands program to the language academy's Evanston building, possibly by the 2002-03 school year.

        Sands parents who carried signs saying “Move Us Now” sat with their arms crossed after the vote.

        “We're very angry. We've been in this position for three years. We came together tonight and were pitted against other families,” said Suzann Kokoefer, a Sands parent from Over-the-Rhine. “No decision is made. Sands has to wait. I'm very frustrated.”

        Parents of students at Sands have heard at least three options for their school's location during the past year. They were hoping their children would be moved from the crumbling West End facility — which is costly to heat — to the centrally located language academy building.

        Dozens of language academy parents, many of whom spoke during the two-hour-plus public speaking session Monday, cheered after the vote was tabled. They waved signs saying “AWL wants to stay.”

        “I have heard from a lot of parents who said they will pull their kids out of this school (if it moves),” language academy Principal Anthony Mazzei said earlier Monday. He added, though, that he will support the administration's decision.

        Locations considered for the language program include: Withrow High School, Crest Hills Year-Round School and Eastern Hills school in Mount Washington.

        The language academy community is content with the school's current location, said Parthina Rutland, chair of AWL's local decision-making committee. Being a citywide magnet school, the preschool-eighth grade language academy draws students from across Cincinnati.

        Some children already ride the school bus for more than an hour, Mr. Mazzei said. Moving the children to a school farther east would mean children would have to rise even earlier for the 7:30 a.m. school day start.

        The board has been under the gun to find a location for the Sands program. But finding a centrally located building in the district's eastern quadrant for CPS' growing Montessori program has proved difficult.


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