Thursday, April 1, 2004

Little Miami pitches expansion plans



By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON TWP. - Little Miami School officials have narrowed their fall tax issue options and Wednesday worked on expanding support for two new schools in the overcrowded district.

School officials hosted their annual business partner lunch, drawing more than 120 Warren County executives and residents, and talked about plans for expanding Little Miami's capacity to handle record growth that will double the district's 3,085 enrollment in a decade.

"We are growing at an alarming rate. Our buildings are filled to capacity and we are outgrowing them," Little Miami Superintendent Daniel Bennett told the audience at Valley Vineyards' restaurant in Hamilton Township.

Bennett cited the district's top state rating of "excellent"and said that, despite difficulties, the district is "continuing to pursue academic excellence despite overcrowding and state funding cuts."

District officials, who earlier were considering two school tax options for November, said they will place an estimated 4.55-mill bond issue on the fall ballot. It would raise $35 million for two schools - a new elementary and a new junior high - as well as an addition to Little Miami High School.

If the bond issue is approved, it would raises taxes on a $100,000 house by about $140 annually.

That is a small price to pay for top-rated schools, said Hamilton Township resident Herb Mayer, who has two daughters in the district and said his family has supported the local schools for decades.

"I like to see my school money spent wisely, and I think this school administration does that," he said.

School officials announced that a public forum to detail the proposed bond issue and new school construction plans will be held at a yet-to-be-determined time on May 4 at Little Miami High School.

E-mail mclark@enquirer.com




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