Saturday, May 1, 2004

School construction plan shrinks

City's falling enrollment may put one school on hold

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Because of declining enrollment, the Cincinnati Public School district plans to alter its $1 billion construction project by building several smaller schools than originally proposed.

The proposed changes are part of a redistricting plan that will be unveiled Monday night during a school board meeting. District officials say they plan to build enough schools to house 38,900 students instead of the original plan for 42,165 students.

The proposal includes decreasing the enrollment capacity of six schools, increasing the capacity for two schools and eliminating one new school planned for the West End.

Parents of a magnet school are already angered over the plan, but district officials stressed that changes aren't final.

"These recommendations are extremely preliminary," said district spokeswoman Janet Walsh.

Parents at Fairview German Language School worry that changes could destroy the program, which has received the second-highest state ranking for academic achievement.

Fairview, a citywide magnet program in Clifton Heights, is slated to move to a new building on the current Clifton School site around 2007. Magnet schools are specialty programs that draw students from outside the neighborhood where they are located.

Parents are concerned that changes for Fairview could increase the new school's enrollment capacity by 100 students. They also worry that neighborhood students would be assigned to the school under the new plan even if they didn't select the German program.

"The concern is that if children are assigned to the school rather than having children and their parents choose the school, they will not have the same level of commitment to the school's program," said Bill Gordon, Fairview PTA president.

District officials on Monday also plan to suggest delaying construction of the new Porter School in the West End. Superintendent Alton Frailey has said there is little demand for the school, which is slated to house a math and science program.

Changes in the cost of the $1 billion program have not yet been discussed.


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