When Harrison Street Elementary School closed at the end of the 2009-10 school year Big Walnut Local School District Superintendent Steve Mazzi said his goal was to see the mothballed building reopen someday.
That someday hinged on several factors, with District student population growth at the top of the list. Mazzi also promised not to put students who were traumatized by redistricting once through redistricting a second time.
During subsequent years student population growth was addressed by opening Big Walnut Intermediate School in the former Big Walnut Middle School. The Intermediate School serves fifth grade students pulled from the District’s three elementary buildings and sixth grade students pulled from the new Big Walnut Middle School. With a K-4 elementary building format, a grade 5/6 intermediate school, and a grade 6/7 middle school the district was able to absorb student population growth over the past several years.
But larger class sizes have been creeping up through the lower grades as young families continue to move into the school district, and during the October 2013 Board of Education meeting Mazzi announced that mothballed Harrison Street Elementary School would reopen for the 2014-15 school year.
Then the administration began the task of preparing the building to reopen and serve a new generation of students, redistricting plans were underway, and, more recently, a search for Harrison Street’s principal was undertaken with an in-house candidate landing the position.
During Thursday evening’s Board meeting Sschool Board members approved hiring General Rosecrans Elementary School’s Literacy Facilitator Kim Castiglione as the Harrison Street Elementary School Principal, effective August 1.
District assistant superintendent Angie Pollock said now that Castiglione is on board, there will be many new tasks on her to-do list.
“All of the building positions will now be posted internally, over the next one-and-a-half-months we’ll focus on staff,” Pollock said. “We’re excited to bring Kim on board to help with all of that. She’ll start right away by meeting with the PTO parents that will be moving into Harrison Street.”
Mazzi said work on preparing the building is progressing; and that before the current school year is complete the district would arrange for all students, staff and parents moving to HSE to tour the building.
District Treasurer Felicia Drummey said area residents have asked how the district is paying for reopening Harrison Street Elementary.
“The Big Walnut Middle School and General Rosecrans Elementary School construction projects were both under budget,” Drummey explained. “One hundred percent of the $388,000 cost of reopening Harrison Street will come from left over bond dollars. With last minute items it may come in just slightly over $388,000.”
Board president Allison Fagan said she is personally thrilled that Harrison Street Elementary is reopening.
“My first responsibility as a Board member was when I had to go to that school and tell them that building would close,” she said.