Saturday, August 11, 2001

New schools prepare to join area roster

They're bright, clean, up-to-date and good for community morale

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

        DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP — When Jane Carmichael walks into the new Kings Mills Elementary School, she is amazed by the building's technological advancements.

        The Deerfield Township parent says the 76,608-square-foot building is not at all like the old school across the street, where her 16- and 18-year-old children attended. The former teacher says she can't wait for her second-grade son to start at the new school.

[photo] At the new Highlands Middle School in Fort Thomas, Randy Callaway of R.J. Beischel Construction installs a concrete form for a sidewalk in preparation for opening.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        “There were parts of the building (old Kings Mills) that were 100 years old. It was a little on the gloomy side,” Mrs. Carmichael said. “I know a building does not make a school; it's the people that make a school. But this new school is a wonderful place to learn in.”

        The school is one of two new buildings opening this month in the Kings Local School District — the other replaces South Lebanon Elementary — and one of five in Greater Cincinnati.

        Elsewhere, schools are being refurbished and expanded in booming school districts. Construction projects are under way in districts from Lakota to Indian Hill to New Miami.

        In some cases, taxpayers willingly opened their pocketbooks to provide updated buildings. In others, several attempts were required.

        In Butler County's Madison Local Schools, for example, voters rejected five levies over three years. They finally approved a bond issue in 1999 to build a new high school that opens this month, as well as to upgrade the old high school and the junior school.


    • School: Highlands Middle School, 2350 Memorial Parkway, Fort Thomas.
    • Cost: $15 million.
    • Size: 94,000 square feet.
    • Serves: Grades 6-8.

    • School: International Academy of Cincinnati, 8094 Plantation Drive, West Chester Township, Butler County.
    • Cost: $4 million.
    • Size: 42,000 square feet.
    • Serves: Pre-school through second grade; grades to be added each year through eighth grade.

    • School: Kings Mills Elementary School, 1780 Kings Ave., Deerfield Township, Kings Local Schools, Warren County.
    • Cost: $7.9 million.
    • Size: 78,285 square feet.
    • Serves: Grades K-4.

    • School: Madison Junior-Senior High School, 5797 W. Alexandria Road, Madison Township, Madison Local Schools, Butler County.
    • Cost: $13 million.
    • Size: 118,000 square feet.
    • Serves: Grades 7-12.

    • School: South Lebanon Elementary School, 60 Ridgeview Lane, Hamilton Township, Kings Local Schools, Warren County.
    • Cost: $8.1 million.
    • Size: 75,008 square feet.
    • Serves: Grades K-4.
        “It's finally brought the community together,” Superintendent William Caudill said. “It's helped school morale by having everybody in an updated facility.”

        Madison Junior-Senior High School in Madison Township, serving grades 7-12, replaces an older building that becomes home to the district's third- through sixth-grade students.

        Although each state-of-the art school is wired for technology and features larger-than-normal classrooms and modern science labs, they don't come from a cookie-cutter model.

        “We purposely wanted each school to have its own identity,” said Kings Superintendent David Query. “We didn't want to use the same blueprint.”

        For example, it was important to South Lebanon residents that the bell from the old school be incorporated into the new building, which was constructed a mile away outside the village limits.

        Architects designed a brick structure to house the bell, which is displayed inside the school lobby. South Lebanon also has a tiered amphitheater built on the front of the school.

        Both Kings schools have a publishing center and wireless computer laptops on carts that are wheeled from classroom to classroom to eliminate “computer labs.” Some walls are movable, allowing for flexibility in use of larger rooms.

        At Highlands Middle School in Fort Thomas, each of the building's six teams of students and teachers has a suite of classrooms and lockers. Teams are grouped on floors by grade levels.

        Two teams on each floor share a lab and large multipurpose space. The U-shaped school also has a television studio, an industrial technology lab with robotics and a one-story parking garage.

        In West Chester Township's International Academy of Cincinnati, restrooms are equipped with showers.

        Serving grades pre-school through 2, the private school is founded on the tenets of Islam.

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