Thursday, March 07, 2002

Rockdale School will be first of new series of buildings

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Public Schools Wednesday unveiled preliminary designs for the new $14 million Rockdale Academy in Avondale.

        It will be the first school built under the district's proposed $1 billion building plan. Construction is to begin this summer on the 650-student building, which will also be the first new school in the district in two decades.

        Roselawn Condon School in Roselawn was built in 1982.

        Opening for the pre-K through eighth-grade school is expected by fall 2004.

        The grounds will include a four-lane running track, two basketball courts and a tennis court for student use during the day and community use at night. The features are part of the district's plan to build schools that are “community learning centers.”

        “I love it,” Rockdale Principal Dawn D. Crook said of the proposal for the new school.

        “I've been through a lot of initiatives (in the district) and this is the one I've had the most input in. We've gotten a lot of buy-in. This is our school.”

        Ms. Crook, along with about 75 teachers, staff and community members, have worked with downtown-based GBBN Architects and Bond Hill based-Wilson & Associates since November to help design the 84,000-square-foot school. That's 9,000 square feet more than the current building.

        The district has the money to start the project, which will launch the first phase of a proposed decade-long building plan to construct 34 schools, renovate 32 others and close more than 20 buildings. Under the plan, the state will contribute $200 million if the district funds the remainder.

        Funding for Rockdale comes from money being paid to the district by Cincinnati and Hamilton County in lieu of property taxes for the city's two new stadiums.

        Demolition of the now-closed Condon school and an accompanying garage, adjacent to Rockdale, is expected to begin this summer. The new school will be built at that site. Students will remain in the current building until the new school is completed.

        Old Rockdale, which opened in 1955 and was renovated in 1960, will be demolished around 2008. Until then it will be used as swing space while other Cincinnati Public buildings are being built.

        Ms. Crook said she's also thrilled with security measures in the new school.

        For example, old Rockdale consists of four separate buildings, requiring students to walk outside to go from building to building. The new structure consists of one building with a security entrance that requires visitors to pass through the main office to gain access to the school.

        The school will have space for a 3,250-square-foot, school-based health center with a separate entrance and parking.

        The school's current health center, open to Rockdale students and their siblings, is 520 square feet.

        Children's Hospital Medical Center is the lead agency for the health center, which sees about 60 children a week.

        There will also be a gymnasium, cafeteria and stage.



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