Middletown saved $10M on the large school construction project, so it’s expanding another building

An aging Middletown school will add more than a dozen classrooms under a $10 million plan that also makes the new learning spaces available to students from other elementary schools throughout the city, school officials said.

The 425-student Central Academy would see an additional 13 classrooms built onto its existing school, which enrolls kindergarten through sixth grades at its 461 Sophia Ave. campus, according to the plan.

Funding for the new classrooms will come from $10 million in savings from Middletown’s recent $96 million construction project at its high school campus that saw a new middle school built adjacent to the renovated Middletown High School.

The Central Academy is unique in the Butler County school system for its multi-age, non-graded instructional program, and school leaders said the physical expansion of the school is part of a plan to eventually offer a form of the school’s curricula throughout all elementary schools.

“Expanding our innovative programming at the elementary level is the next step of the Middie Modernization Movement,” said Middletown Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr., citing the marketing moniker he launched when joining the district in 2017.

“We’ve asked the community to pivot forward, and we’re excited to do this together. Our kids deserve it.”

Chris Urso, president of the Middletown Board of Education, said the plan is “in line with Middletown school district’s strategic plan; we want every child to receive an exceptional learning experience.

“By adding more space to our elementary schools, (the district’s) design team will be able to give more children access to innovative programming with a focus on contemporary design and delivery of instruction.”

Randy Bertram, treasurer for Middletown Schools, said financing for the Central Academy project comes from the $10 million savings from the high school campus transformation.

“In the four years since the bond issue passed (by voters), taxpayers have only paid on $45 million instead of the $55 million authorized, meaning we have $10 million remaining we can spend on a building project. There will not be a tax increase to property owners in 2019 and possibly longer,” Bertram said.

Construction on the new 13 classrooms will begin this spring, and the expanded Central Academy is scheduled to be opened by the start of the 2020-21 school year. Enrollment and grade configurations are still to be determined, officials said.

The school system’s design team will make a presentation to the school board on the proposed project at the board’s Jan. 14 meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Middletown City Offices at One Donham Plaza in City Council Chambers.

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