Thursday, December 06, 2001

New Norwood schools weighed

State wants aging buildings closed

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        NORWOOD — The school board is reviewing a state recommendation that it abandon its four aging elementary schools and the middle school and replace them with three or four new buildings.

        The board will spend the next year talking with the community and architects to develop a master facilities plan for the district.

        Voorhis Slone Welsh & Crossland Architects has been chosen to work with the board to review a preliminary report from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. The firm will take community comment and mesh it with state guidelines to develop a plan.

        “We are very confident we can come up with an acceptable master plan,” said Norwood Superintendent Barbara Rider. “We'd like to take a year or less to work it out.”

        Some of the district's buildings are nearly a century old, and do not meet state education standards. Remodeling the old buildings to bring them up to par is not an option because the cost would be too high, state officials said.

        Construction costs would be split, with the board paying about 63 percent and the state paying the rest, said Cary Furniss, school treasurer.

        The district would be eligible for those funds between 2008 and 2010.

        A preliminary report from the OSFC has recommended three options, all of which call for the district to abandon its four elementary schools, the middle school and North Norwood, which the board rents to the Hamilton County Education Service Center.

        Those buildings would be replaced with two or three elementary schools and a middle school. The report also calls for renovations at Norwood High School, the district's newest building.

        The cost is estimated at about $40 million.

        “It's not a foregone conclusion we're going to abandon any buildings,” Mr. Furniss said.

        “We have a strong desire to find out what the community wants and then do their will.”

        A facilities committee will be established and community forums scheduled early next year.

        Ms. Rider said three architectural firms the board interviewed said rebuilding on the elementary properties is not feasible because they are too small.

        Most of Norwood's schools were built between 1910 and 1917. The oldest, Allison, was constructed in 1896.

        The district has until November 2002 to get a plan approved to lock in the state's share of the project.

        Anyone interested in serving on the facilities committee should call Ms. Rider at 396-5520.


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