Thursday, September 23, 2004

School seeks East Side cachet, proposes center in Indian Hill

By Sheila McLaughlin
Enquirer staff writer

INDIAN HILL - A private school has its eye on this city in a plan to attract more students from the East Side.

The Cincinnati Waldorf School, a 160-student program for prekindergarten through seventh grade in Winton Place, wants to open an early childhood-education center at Meshewa Farm, 7550 Given Road.

The proposal will be the topic of a public hearing before the planning commission at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 in City Council chambers, 6525 Drake Road.

City Manager Mike Burns said approval would require the school to meet several conditions, including that at least 20 percent of students live in Indian Hill.

Waldorf parent John Savage, who grew up in Indian Hill, said the school wants to start out next fall at Meshewa Farm with pre-nursery enrichment classes for 10 infants and toddlers.

Programming for youngsters up to age 5 could be added, depending on demand.

The Indian Hill program would be a "feeder" for the Winton Place school, which operates on Derby Avenue and has plans to build its main campus on 18 acres of farmland the school purchased in 2001 near Winton and North Bend roads.

"The goal is to ultimately develop the entire campus there, but always have an East Side location at Meshewa Farm to get exposure," Savage said.

The site is on 123 acres and is surrounded by other farmland. It is the former home of Mary Cunningham Stephenson LeBlond, who died two years ago. The school would rent part of the 6,000-square-foot home from LeBlond's granddaughter, Bonnie Mitsui, who operates Turner Farm next door, Savage said.

School officials held an informational meeting for Given Road neighbors last weekend.

Savage emphasized that the new program would stay small because of the city's enrollment requirement.

"Enrollment can only grow as Indian Hill residents support the program," he said.

"There's not going to be people trucked in from all over."


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