(Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of articles regarding the Fairborn school district’s bond issue.)
By Whitney Vickers
FAIRBORN — Residents in the Fairborn school district Nov. 8 will decide whether or not they will support the construction of new primary and intermediate schools.
Issue 19 is an additional levy 2.70-mill, 37-year levy for construction of Five Points Elementary School and Fairborn Intermediate School. It also includes .25 mills for future maintenance for 23 years. If it passes, it will cost Fairborn citizens owning a $100,000 home $103.25 per year, or $1.99 per week, generating $1,708,000 per year, to pay for the new facilities.
“It’s an investment in our own personal stakes with our property (values), an investment in our Fairborn community and helping it move in a positive, forward direction,” Fairborn City Schools Superintendent Mark North said. “You’re either going to move forward or you’re going to move backward and that’s where we’re at right here in Fairborn — we have an opportunity to pass this bond issue and build these new buildings and move forward.”
Both Fairborn Primary School/Five Points Elementary School and Fairborn Primary School/Palmer South Elementary School were built in the 1950s and they are not in the shape they once were.
Pam Gayheart of the Fairborn City School District offered a tour of the Fairborn Primary School building, located at 4 West Dayton-Yellow Springs Rd., to display the current conditions on the building.
The boiler room, first offering a consistent knocking sound as a greeting, contains a panel of tangled wires with a fan pointed toward it. Gayheart said that fan is never turned off. The boiler, itself, is rusted and displays previous repairs.
Just beyond that area are lockers, some displaying name tags and clear usage, others without functional hinges or doors in some cases. At the lowest end of the hallways, or ramps in some areas, water has eaten away chunks of paint from the walls, displaying the white wall or bits of rust beneath in some spots. Some mismatched tile below has become the aesthetic.
To prevent soup bowls of water from puddling on the floor during heavy periods of rain, maintenance officials must place soakers in the space where the floor and wall meet in some areas of the building.
“This is an investment,” North said of voting yes to Issue 19. “This is an investment into your community; this is an investment into your own property; this is an investment in the children.”
“Fairborn has everything to offer except for school buildings that are at the standards of all the districts around us,” he added. “When people invest in communities and invest in property, property values go up. The more people who want to live here, the higher the property value goes up.”
Some current and previous board members held a special meeting in the summer of 2015 to allow the district to show an interest in new buildings to the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which “is responsible for guiding capital projects for state agencies, state-supported universities and community colleges, including Ohio’s comprehensive public K-12 school construction and renovation program, and managing the grants process for cultural facilities and school security programs,” according to its website.
The OSFC approved funding to cover 40 percent of the total cost of the project, approximately $58 million. School officials first wanted to tackle all the education buildings in the district and are now focusing on Fairborn Primary School/Five Points Elementary and Fairborn Intermediate School/Palmer South Elementary School, which have been determined to be in the worst shape by engineers.
“We have a small opportunity where the state is willing to pay for 40 percent of it. Why in the world would we turn that opportunity away? If you had a 40 percent [off] coupon to apply to whatever, would you let it sit in your drawer and expire?” North said. “We have a 40 percent coupon sitting in our drawer. If we don’t use it, it will expire and we have to build these buildings. These buildings are worn out. They’re outdated, their usefulness is gone and they have to be replaced. Why in the world wouldn’t we do it now and use this 40 percent-off coupon.”