School district putting bond issue on May ballot

FAIRFIELD, OH (FOX19) - Leaky roofs, moldy floors and outdated appliances. A school district in dire need of building repairs is putting a bond issue on next month's ballot.

The issue failed by just a few dozen votes in November.

The school has been around since the 1920's, and as the second oldest building in Butler County, father time has left his mark on Fairfield Central Elementary.

"It's simply falling apart all around us," said Principal Karrie Gallo.

Gallo says there's a wide range of issues, but plumbing and water problems seem to be the worst.

"The ceiling has been patched and it's coming down through the ceilings and puddling down onto the floor. In the gym it's coming through the windows and the window wells," said Gallo.

This bond issue has only been on the ballot once, and Gallo says the reason it failed by a mere 31 votes last time is because not enough people understand just how bad the conditions are.

"Get in the schools, they're doing tours, get a tour of the building so you can see the holes in the walls, so you can see the leaking pipes," said Anne McKinney.

McKinney is a teacher at Central and she says the conditions are wearing on everyone, and it's time to think about the kids.

"It's about their learning environment so they're not throwing up when it's too hot so they're not freezing cold when the boiler is not working," said McKinney.

"Offices being used as classrooms, we have closets being used as office space. We have no storage space," said Gallo.

Even the drinking water is a concern.

"The rusting in the pipes is so bad that if the water sits for awhile and you turn the water on the initial water comes out and it's a darkened color, it's actually a brown color," said Gallo.

The bond would bring the district a new Central Elementary, a new freshman school, and an additional elementary school. The bond would cost taxpayers roughly $8/month and just less than $100/year on a home valued at $100,000.

If the bond issue fails again this time, the millions of federal dollars would go to another school district.

Gallo says if they miss out on this $19 million in federal dollars again, they'll have to improvise.

"I think what we would have to do is make some minor repairs and just do what we can and the kids will just have to continue to suffer," said Gallo.

The Fairfield mayor and city council have toured the school and will decide in the coming days if they plan to endorse a vote for the bond issue.

If the bond passes, the earliest students could move into the new facilities is 2016.

Early voting is underway in Butler County. Residents can also vote on the issue on election day which is May 6.

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