Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Schools meeting upsets some


Forum format is criticized

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Why does the Cincinnati school district want to close so many schools that are only 50 years old? Where will kids go to school if their neighborhood school closes? How long will renovations take?

        Those were some of the questions residents raised Tuesday night at the North Avondale Community Center in the first of 12 public sessions to gather input for the $1 billion proposal to rebuild Cincinnati's schools.

[photo] Architectural drawings and other visuals greeted those at Tuesday's meeting on rebuilding Cincinnati schools.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
        Few of the questions were heard by the entire group of 60-plus residents because Cincinnati school district officials and state consultants arranged the meeting for small-group discussions instead of an open forum. The group was also asked to fill out a survey immediately following an hourlong presentation.

        That upset some in the crowd.

        “I didn't come here to take a quiz,” said Steve Schreiber, former president of Clifton Town Meeting.

        State consultants said they are open to any questions residents had, but thought the group sessions and surveys provide the best means to hear all voices.

        Tracy Richter, of Dublin, Ohio-based DeJong and Associates Inc., said the survey responses will be distributed to those who attend the forums. DeJong, a consultant firm specializing in educational facilities planning, is compiling survey information.

        Tuesday's meeting was for residents of North Avondale, Avondale, Paddock Hills and Clifton. In those areas, Cincinnati school officials said three schools are supposed to be replaced, one renovated and two discontinued.

        Clifton resident Frank Miller, 63, who attended Clifton Elementary when he was a boy, said he didn't feel qualified to fill out much of the survey. The six-page questionnaire asked for demographic information of the participants, and opinions on whether Clifton, North Avondale, Rockdale and other schools should be renovated or replaced.

        “I'm kind of frustrated,” Mr. Miller said. “I'm being asked questions about half a dozen schools I don't know about and one that I do.”

        Others also seemed confused, but school officials said the information will be useful feedback.

        If approved by the Board of Education, the building effort would be the biggest public works project in city history.

        CPS has identified more than $300 million of district cash for the project over the next decade. The state would contribute another $200 million. District officials say they will need to ask taxpayers to support a bond issue, though they haven't determined when.

       



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