Thursday, June 19, 2003

Schools OK $44.4M building plan

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Kings Local Schools has embraced a master plan that identifies about $44.4 million in building construction needed to meet state standards.

The school board voted Tuesday to accept the plan, developed by the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

That approval was necessary for the Warren County school district to apply for future reimbursements from the state regarding the projects.

The plan was based on projected enrollment and building assessments done over the last couple of years, said Paul Brown of Resource International, who is hired by the state to help with such projects.

The state recommended several upgrades, including renovating and adding onto the high school and junior high.

Some of the master plan's requirements - including building two elementary schools - can already be checked off. The district opened Kings Mills and South Lebanon elementary schools in 2001.

Kings would have to spend about $44.4 million to meet the state's requirements in all its buildings.

The state would pay 16 percent of those projects' costs.

"Project costs can change," Brown said. "What won't change is the district and state's contributions. You're locked into that."

He added that many school districts spend more than just what is required to get what they need and want. But the schools might not be reimbursed for that construction.

"You can get into some things that the state, in the end, will not fund," Brown said.

When any construction at the high school and junior high school campus would occur is still up in the air. In May, Kings voters rejected a 4.5-mill bond issue that would have funded a $43 million proposal to renovate and expand the buildings, located on Columbia Road.

It also is not known when Kings would receive the state's part of the project funding.

Brown said several other schools were ahead of the district on the waiting list, and he did not expect it to be "next year or the year after."

Tuesday's board meeting ended without an announcement about the district's next superintendent. Board members expect early next week to name a successor to Superintendent David Query, who retires Aug. 1.


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