Friday, August 11, 2000

Panel urges OK for arts campus

CPS committee proposes go-ahead

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Plans for a $52 million downtown arts campus funded with public and private money received support Thursday from Cincinnati's superintendent of schools and three board of education members.

        The facilities committee voted to recommend that the full board support plans to commit $26 million in school construction money toward the project.

        A draft agreement between the school district and the Greater Cincinnati Arts and Education Center has each party contributing $26 million to the project, with the nonprofit arts group agreeing to raise its share in one year.

        “We do believe in this project,” said Harriet Russell, facilities committee chairwoman. “We do want to get moving.”

        Proposed in 1996, the arts campus is the brainchild of Cincinnati Pops Conductor Erich Kunzel. He envisions students working side-by-side with professional musicians and artists as part of their regular school day.

        In a letter to the facilities committee, Superintendent Steven Adamowski recommended support for building the K-12 arts school next to Music Hall.

        The building would replace two schools — Schiel Elementary and the School for Creative and Performing Arts. It would front Central Parkway.

        There is some opposition to the plan.

        Music Hall neighbors in Over-the-Rhine say they want the district to renovate SCPA and Schiel. The Over-the-Rhine Community Council supports dividing the $26 million among all of the city's schools.

        District Business Executive Kent Cashell said it would cost $24 million to renovate SCPA and add space to accommodate Schiel students. It would cost about the same to renovate Taft High School into a K-12 arts school.

        “This two-for-one deal is actually more efficient,” Mr. Cashell said.

        Proponents of the arts campus said once the board approves the agreement, they will begin a major fund-raising campaign.

        “We've been hogtied because you can't go out and ask people to give you money when you don't have support for a project,” said Stanley Aronoff, president of the arts groups board of trustes.

        The group already has raised $3 million. Under the proposed agreement, if the $26 million is not raised within a year the deal is off.

        SCPA 11th-grader Katy Cosse said the plans are exciting, even though she won't get to experience the new school.

        “The chance to work with professional artists in the midst of downtown can really give students much more experience,” Katy said.

        The draft resolution that will be sent to the full board is part of a package of four school projects.

        “It's important that everyone realize we are here not for the students of a single location but for all of the students in the district,” Ms. Russell said. “No project is intended to single out or disadvantage any children.”

        The full board will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Education Center in Corryville.


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