Monday, April 28, 2003

Princeton makes case for school bond issue


Increase would replace aged, outdated buildings

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

GLENDALE - For the first time since Princeton City School District was created 47 years ago, voters will head to the polls May 6 to decide a bond issue for new schools.

The 2.84-mill bond issue would raise $85 million to build or renovate eight elementary schools, replacing the district's nine elementaries. The owner of a $100,000 home would pay an extra $87 a year in school taxes for 27 years.

PDF CHART
Comparing Princeton, CPS, Franklin and Kings school bond issues
"One of the questions we get is, 'Why now?'" said Superintendent Don Darby. "It's not as though we had an impulse to do this. We've been working on this over six years, and in that time, we had three studies. They all ... said the same thing: It's time to do something about your aging buildings."

The average age of Princeton's buildings is 62 years. The oldest is Glendale Elementary, built in 1900, when William McKinley was president.

Administrators say:

• Electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems are outdated or crumbling.

It's difficult to install today's technology with outdated electrical systems. "Every time they plug in a hot plate (at Lincoln Heights) for cooking experiments, they blow a fuse," Darby said. "Now, that's not supposed to happen."

With inefficient heating and cooling systems, classrooms are either too hot or too cold, added Aaron Mackey, assistant superintendent. Five of the nine elementaries do not have air conditioning, but if the bond issue passes, all buildings will be air-conditioned. Boilers are so old that replacement parts have to be made.

• The size of the classrooms by today's standards should be 900 square feet to allow students to move around for hands-on learning. Most Princeton classrooms are 700 square feet.

"Kids don't learn most effectively by sitting in neat little rows. ... Kids learn best in an active environment," Darby said.

• Because of flooding, Sharonville, Springdale and Glendale elementaries have had to move classrooms out of their basements. Sharonville has two double-wide trailers that house four classrooms.

In community forums, the majority of residents said they want new schools, except in Glendale. Glendale residents are interested in preserving their historic building through renovation.

The district is working with two architectural firms that specialize in historical renovation. But, if it costs more to renovate Glendale than build new, the district will opt for a new building. A decision won't be made before the election.

Robbin Dell, who has a seventh-grader at the junior high and a first-grader at Glendale Elementary, supports the bond issue. It doesn't matter to her whether Glendale is renovated or built new.

"A 100-year-old building is very charming, such as in Glendale's case, but things fall apart. ... Improvements need to be made."

Some wonder why the district is building eight elementaries when enrollment is declining. The current enrollment is 6,200. Projections in 10 years show a drop to 5,800.

Darby said it would be hard to find land to build fewer, but larger elementaries.

And, he said, "A preponderance of literature tells us that kids learn better in smaller learning communities. ... Our elementary schools have, historically, been important parts of the communities we serve."

E-mail ckranz@enquirer.com




TOP LOCAL STORIES
Victim's mother will witness execution
Details of Sherry Byrne's killing
What would it take to fix I-75?
Restaurant manager shot to death
Voinovich won't give on Bush tax cuts

PETER BRONSON COLUMN
Senator Skinflint

NEWS IN PHOTOS
Flower Show draws record crowd
Holocaust remembered

CINCINNATI-HAMILTON COUNTY
GOP council slate focuses on crime
Disharmony in Wyoming over strings program
Development plan follows trend
Princeton makes case for school bond issue

AROUND THE TRISTATE
Tristate A.M. Report
Poll shows conflict on college admission policy
High School Theater Review
Good News: Springer grad looks back to give
Obituary: Patricia Molloy was chief labor-delivery nurse
Obituary: Ronald Snell inspired Mariemont students
Congrats

BUTLER COUNTY
Fairfield has revised plan for Ohio 4

WARREN COUNTY
Corwin House users help to plan improved services
Mason residents can chat with cops

OHIO
Ohio Moments: Ripcord parachute first tested in Dayton

KENTUCKY
Prom season brings drinking warning - to parents
'Alien' ad alienates Lunsford critics
Ohio River bridges priority in Louisville
Meat Shower part of history

INDIANA
O'Bannon ready to sign Indiana budget

TOP WEEKEND STORIES
Purple People Bridge links Newport, downtown
Lemmie still fascinating, but honeymoon is over
Lakota hopes quality grows with buildings
Families share memories of fire's victims
Holocaust tales of survival
Colleges come to terms with SARS