Uproar over possible consolidation in Forest Hills - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Uproar over possible consolidation in Forest Hills

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Parents in the Forest Hills School District packed the house Wednesday night for a meeting about the possible consolidation of Anderson and Turpin High Schools.

People from both schools have been waging an all-out social media war, from Twitter and e-mail campaigns to chatboards and Facebook.

They finally met face-to-face with the School Board members to voice their opinions and call for a stop to proposals to build one big high school in Forest Hills.

It was standing room only at Nagel Middle School's Cafetorium and the hot chatter was over a proposal to combine Anderson High School and Turpin High School.

"There's interest and I believe there will be support once the community understands the options," said Superintendent John Patzwald.

He said the uncertain economy dictates taking possible consolidation actions now, even though enrollment is up.

"It's gonna be awfully important that everyone in the audience tonight feels that we've heard them," said Patzwald.

People were told repeatedly no decisions have been made.

"I hope their decisions aren't made yet," said Monica McGrew. "I hope that they really consider that we need to get a levy passed in this district."

McGrew has children in the Forest Hills Elementary Schools.

"Children get lost in the shuffle I think," said McGrew referring to bigger, mega-sized school districts like Mason or Lakota.

McGrew said she came to the meeting at Nagel for her children's future.

"I want to stay in this district, I believe in it," said McGrew. "I'm a product of it and I really believe that small is the way to stay and not one large high school."

"Bigger isn't better," said parent Tony Rizzo. "The small school atmosphere, I think the kids thrive in and that's why we're out here, that's why we moved out."

Rizzo and his wife did their homework for two years before moving their family to Forest Hills last March.

"It's a phenomenal school district we couldn't be happier with it," Rizzo said. They were also impressed with Forest Hills "Excellent" rating.

"We felt that with 1,300 kids in the school, basically 350 per grade, they'd have ample opportunity to get involved in activities whether it be sports, chess club, band," Rizzo said.

FOX19 asked Superintendent Patzwald if this move to consolidate was sports driven.

"Not in my opinion," said Patzwald. "Not in my opinion, it's about how do we provide quality programs and services cost-efficiently to the Forest Hills School District."

"Sports is a great great thing for kids but it can't be the number one thing we're here for education, education's the most important thing," Rizzo said.

Again, no decision made at Wednesday night's meeting. Everyone's opinions were collected on giant tablets at each table, then posted on the wall so people could walk around and see what the consensus was. All of that information will later be transferred to the school's website so the entire community can read exactly how their neighbors feel about a possible consolidation.

There is another session scheduled for this Saturday at 8 a.m.

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