I missed you at the School Board Meeting held at Aurora Elementary.
Five people spoke at the part of the meeting intended for public comment about use of the school building.
Aurora's Mayor asked that the school corporation trade the deed for the elementary building to the city in exchange for taking the debt acquired by the corporation for the water tower.
definite uses of the building were not discussed, but it was noted the building is zoned B-2 and the city is very concerned about the fate of the building. They are willing to work with an appropriate buyer.
Two individuals spoke asking that the building not be used as low income housing.
I spoke and was interrupted in the middle by board president Daryl Cutter. I asked him to please let me continue. Later you will find my comments regarding the building.
Another individual asked when South Dearborn acquired this building and the schools were consolidated. I believe they said it happened in 1968. They also wanted to know when the building was built. The dedication plaque says 1962.
When Kathy Plummer spoke to the board regarding Little League's use of the fields, she passionately pleaded that the green space containing the ball fields be deeded to the City of Aurora or little league, to insure Aurora children would have a place to play ball.
Other items were discussed, but I became a poor note taker when I spotted Bob Fehrman in the back of the room. I went back and apologized for running against him. The board is worse now tnan it ever has been. If I hadn't run against him, perhaps he would have retained his seat and there would have been at least two board members willing to stand up and question the administration. Currently, only Terry Luhrson does this. Perhaps a board with Terry Luhrson and Bob Fehrman could have saved considerable tax dollars and led to more improvements in our schools.
IF YOU FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT ANYTHING OUR SCHOOL SHOULD BE DOING AND IS NOT, OR SHOULDN'T BE DOING AND IS...OR ABOUT HOW THE VACATED AURORA ELEMENTARY SHOULD BE USED, PLEASE WRITE THE BOARD. IF YOU NEED ADDRESSES AND CAN'T FIND THEM, CONTACT ME AND I WILL GET THE ONCE I HAVE TO YOU.
My comments to the board:
In an article published in a Cincinnati Newspaper in 2003, former Superintendent Dave Koehler said Aurora Elementary is a good building, but we have outgrown it.
In 2003 the public was told Aurora Elementary was simply in bad shape and must be replaced.
The citizen panel was offered three options...
1. Make major additions and renovations to Aurora Elementary, leave current middle school alone, and make additions and renovations to the High School.
2. Build a new Elementary on the High School Campus, move the ninth grade to the middle school, move grades 4,5 & 6 to the new elementary and make renovations to the High School.
3. Convert the Middle School to an Elementary, build a Junior High, make additions and renovations to the High School.
Option three was chosen.
One of the major objectives of the project was to make Aurora Elementary like the other Corporation Elementary Schools.
This objective is not met...Yes, students K-6 will meet in the same building, but Aurora Elementary will have 650+ students at all times. This is nearly double the size of the other three elementary schools. Due to size, Aurora students will continue to get a far different elementary experience than students in the other schools.
I met with the administration after the hearing. They also indicated they did expect eventual growth in the area and planned to add a sixth grade wing to the new Junior High as growth occurred.
Due to the site the building has been placed on, building another wing is quite unlikely.
It appears the administration still expects great growth in our district in a very few years. They have projected a 60 million-dollar in property valuation in the next few years. There are nearly 300 new homes planned for Washington Township. If this growth becomes a reality, South Dearborn will be faced with unacceptable overcrowding at Aurora Elementary. The new arrangement is only expected to accommodate 700 students. In 2003 there were 663 K-6 students enrolled in the Aurora enrollment area. Leaving additional capacity of only 37 students.
A housing project of 280 homes will produce far more than 37 new students for Aurora.
I believe South Dearborn Citizens would be served far better with four equally populated K-3 elementary schools, and the need for extensive and expensive remodeling of the Middle School could be avoided by converting it to a true Middle School serving all corporation 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students.
Each of the elementary schools should become a true early childhood education center, serving children from birth through the third grade. Parents should be able to bring their special needs children to each of these schools for full access to state funded First Steps programs. These schools should house high quality Head Start Programs. The health clinics in these schools should provide speech and hearing screenings, basic eye exams, lead screenings, and immunizations, including flu shots for the local community. Rooms should be reserved in each of these schools for community after and before school activities.
Only the Senior Citizens of Moores Hill currently have a local Senior Nutrition and Activity Center. This short fall in local services to our seniors could be overcome by providing a nutrition program in each of our elementary schools for senior citizens.
The majority of our tax bill goes to school funding. If our four elementary schools become true community centers, we will maximize the value of these buildings to each of the four communities served by South Dearborn Community School Corporation.
Mrs. Loveland recently attended a School Board Meeting and forwarded an account of her experience there.