Tuesday, March 16, 2004

School building plan offered

Residents invited to give input

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

FORT THOMAS - Residents can respond to a school district's plan for a $20 million renovation to Highlands High School and two new elementary school buildings at 7 p.m. today in the high school auditorium.

Students at Highlands High School, Fort Thomas, must use steps to travel between the second floors of two different sections of the school.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
The district's Local Planning Committee - which consists of parents, community members, teachers, principals and other administrators - has been working on the state-required four-year plan since October.

The 17 committee members toured the schools and sorted through pages of data on attendance trends, bonding capacity, curriculums and population growth. They concluded that renovations on the high school should start as soon as possible. They also recommended two new schools replace Woodfill, Johnson and Moyer elementary schools, which were built in 1922, 1928 and 1930, respectively.

It's a "master list of what could happen,'' said Superintendent Larry Stinson.

Renovation of the high school, Stinson said, could happen soon but changes to the elementary schools in the independent Campbell County district with just under 2,300 students may be further down the road.

The district has enough cash and bonding capacity to start the Highlands project, which will include new classrooms and numerous upgrades.

"We have $8 million right now, so the first phase of the remodeling can be done," said Jamie Smith, a parent and assistant chair of the committee.

Building two new elementary schools could be more problematic.

The district would have to find the money to build and persuade the community to consolidate three schools into two.

The three schools are scattered throughout the city and most students can walk to school. That could change with two schools.

"My guess is we'll have people come out Tuesday and say they don't like that idea," said school board member Jeff Beach. "People really value schools in their neighborhoods where they can walk to them."

Smith said merging the schools would save money, improve services for special needs students, and increase the ability to offer more programs, for example, foreign languages.

Stinson said the committee wants the schools replaced but "there very likely will be another (four-year) plan before we get to the elementary schools."

The district built a new middle school in 2001.

Steps toward approval

$20 million renovation of Highlands High School will include:

Replace steel curtainwall system on 1958 wing of school

Replace single-glazed windows with double-glazed windows

Replace all exterior doors

Replace all suspended ceilings

Replace ceramic tile in hallways

Install elevators and ramps

Replace all restrooms

Replace cafeteria seating and office furnishings

Upgrade intercom system

Replace all heating, air conditioning

Install new wiring and lighting

Install new fire alarm system

What's next?

Public hearing 7 p.m. today, Highlands High School auditorium, 2400 Memorial Parkway.

Fort Thomas Board of Education votes on the plan 6 p.m. Thursday, Central Office, 28 N. Fort Thomas Ave.

If the board adopts the plan, the Kentucky Board of Education conducts another public hearing, 6 p.m. March 29, Highlands High School auditorium, and votes on the plan in June.

With the state's approval, the district may implement the plan.

About the Fort Thomas district

Fort Thomas School District schools serve just under 2,300 students. Its schools are:

Highlands High School

• Built in stages beginning in 1922

• Major renovations - nothing since 1970s

Highlands Middle School

•  Built in 2001

Johnson Elementary

• Built in 1928

• Major renovations - classrooms added in 1992

Moyer Elementary

• Built in 1930

• Major renovations - nothing since 1970s

Woodfill Elementary

• Built in 1922

• Major renovations - nothing since 1970s


Email williamcroyle@yahoo.com

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