By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Public Schools unveiled designs for two new elementary schools Monday - Roll Hill and Midway - and voted to keep Pleasant Ridge school at its current site.
The school designs are part of a $1 billion plan to build 35 new schools and renovate 31 more. The district is seeking support for a $480 million bond issue May 6 to finance the four-segment decade-long project.
Roll Hill and Midway are scheduled to be built in the first phase of the project, which includes 15 new schools and two renovated schools.
Midway is slated to be a 76,000-square-foot facility for 550 students.
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Despite the failure of a bond issue in November, the district has enough money to pay for the project's first phase, and the board has opted to move forward with those projects.
Midway is slated to be a 76,000-square-foot facility for 550 students. The total project cost is estimated at $12.8 million. The site for Midway is bordered by Glenmore and Hanna avenues.
Roll Hill will be 84,000 square feet and will accommodate 650 students.
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Roll Hill will be 84,000 square feet and will accommodate 650 students. The project cost is estimated at $12.8 million. The school will be built where the old Roll Hill now stands in North Fairmount.
After hearing about a dozen comments from board members in favor and against the move of Pleasant Ridge school to Kennedy Heights, board members voted 4-3 to keep the school on its current site on Montgomery Road.
"To me it is about keeping the support the children presently have," said board member Harriet Russell. Melanie Bates, Rick Williams and Sally Warner also voted in favor of the move. Parishioners at a church across the street who tutor the students came out en masse to support the school staying where it is.
The board also approved a multimillion dollar instructional management system used to help teachers create and grade tests and track students' attendance, academic performance and mastery of skills. The system will cost $11.5 million the first two years and will have costs of about $1.5 million a year after that.
Administrators say parents will be able to tap into the system, too, via the Internet to see their child's grades, discipline, attendance, assignments and performance.
School administration also said the instructional system would help:
Teachers track students' progress from school to school and grade to grade.
Streamline the work of office clerks and save time for security guards.
Sue Taylor, president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, said teachers working on an electronic grade book, which is one facet of the instructional management system, have experienced glitches.
"I believe it's very important for teachers to have access to the best resources, which include technology," she said. "But teachers who have used that one component have not been satisfied. I would think that any reasonable person would want to work out the glitches before making such a huge purchase."
The possibility of selling Washburn school in the West End to a K-8 charter school, Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy, was rejected by the board.
The academy is now located in a building on Central Parkway in the West End. The charter school, which opened in 1999, has agreed to pay $990,000 for the building. Washburn was built in 1910.
"We're real excited about it and in need of a larger space," said Lisa Hamm, the charter school's superintendent, before the sale died. "We don't have green space outside and don't have a place for the kids to play basketball and volleyball on site. This will give our students more opportunities for learning. We are in need of a larger facility."
The school has 432 students, and has a waiting list. The school expects to add four more classrooms in the next two years.
The motion died when no board members seconded it. Board members did not say why they opposed the sale.
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