By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FINNEYTOWN - The Board of Education for Finneytown Local Schools on Monday unanimously approved a plan to reconfigure its three elementary buildings and middle school, effective this fall.
Superintendent Sam Martin recommended that Brent Elementary house grades K-2, Cottonwood 3-4, Whitaker 5-6 and the middle school 7-8. The plan takes sixth-graders out of the middle school.
"Acceptance of this recommendation will best serve our students and our residents by improving educational practices, broadening each student's base of exposure to other students and staff members, and maximizing the use of district resources," Martin said.
"Any delay in implementation will only prolong the anxiety caused by uncertainty, further polarize our district, put our finances in need of more immediate additional funding and postpone the educational and social benefits for our students."
The district hopes reconfiguration will help delay the need for an operating levy until 2005.
Board member Jan Smith voted for the reconfiguration, but she said she was disappointed by the process because some people felt excluded. She said she wished there had been more opportunities for staff and the community to be involved. The process became the focus, Smith said, instead of the many advantages of reconfiguration.
A proposal to reconfigure schools was first announced in January. Four public meetings were held, but residents were not asked to comment Monday.
A number of residents and teachers in the 2,000-student district, which earned an Effective rating on the 2003 Local Report Card, earlier had expressed opposition to the plan or at least wanted the district to spend more time studying options.
"So many people in the district have moved in because they have researched our neighborhood schools," said Patty Kathman, parent of a third-grader and seventh-grader.
"If this is a good plan for the children, then it will be a good plan for the children a year from now."
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