Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Milford students get fresh start

At 2 just-completed schools, the paint's almost as new as the pencils

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] First-graders (from left) Isabelle Kolik, Cheyenne Riley, Darci Ponchot, Sam Cain, Kyle Napier and Olivia Sams wait in line to go to gym class Tuesday at Mulberry Elementary School in Milford.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
MILFORD - Milford students got their first taste of new schools Tuesday when two K-6 elementaries opened.

School started later this year for the 6,000-student district so McCormick and Mulberry elementaries could be completed. Milford, Goshen and Hamilton were the last Tristate public school districts to open, all because of building construction.

The new Milford buildings allow the district to implement a K-6 neighborhood school concept, moving its fifth- and sixth-graders out of Milford Main Middle School into the elementary schools.

Milford voters in May 2001 approved a bond issue to build four neighborhood schools at a cost of $43.5 million, all locally funded. Construction continues on Pattison and Meadowview elementary schools, scheduled to open in fall 2004.

Donald Baker, principal of McCormick, said school went incredibly well for the first day in a new building.

As with any new school, there were a few glitches. The gymnasium isn't finished yet, and the cafeteria tables didn't come in, so students had to eat lunch in their classrooms.

Baker met for 45 minutes with each grade level to ease the transition.

"Some of the questions today were about traditions they had at their other schools," he said. "They wanted to know if they were going to have Pajama Days. That was a big issue for (grades) 4, 5 and 6. Other than that, they wanted to know when it was going to stop raining, because we do have two playgrounds they haven't been able to use yet."

The elementary schools were built to address Milford's booming growth but are already at near capacity.

McCormick, at 751 Loveland-Miamiville Road in Loveland, and Mulberry, at 5950 Buckwheat Road in Miami Township, each can handle 652 students. On Tuesday they opened with 631 and 645 students, respectively.

"It does not give us much wiggle room," Superintendent John Frye said.

An Ohio School Facilities Commission projection issued in 2000 underestimated the district's growth, and the commission is conducting a reassessment of building needs, Frye said.


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