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Urges support of the Crestview School District

To the editor:

As residents of Crestview School District for over 40 years, it’s always been impressive how our rural community has stepped up in support of all fundraisers, attendance of plays and events, and sporting events. Rebel pride is strong here. Local realtors know that Crestview School District is considered the most desirable in Columbiana County, with homes selling quickly and a waiting list of potential buyers. Property values are rising.

We are fortunate to have great teachers, school board members, and a superintendent who are all dedicated to providing not just the best education, but also values, ethics, and community pride. It is our responsibility as parents, grandparents, and community members that all of this be accomplished in safe, comfortable schools. Right now, we have a serious problem with the current buildings.

Many people in the district are upset and have questioned why 23-year old buildings that should have lasted much longer are in such bad shape and in need of costly repairs. Having served on the levy committee back then (almost 25 years ago) and attended every building and board meeting after the levy passed, here is an explanation of what happened…

At the time, the only option to build new schools was the sole responsibility of the State Board of Education, which erroneously decided to build an addition onto the then high school (now the current middle school) that was built in 1963. As the building continued to deteriorate, with the ancient boiler system having had $188,000 in repairs and parts becoming obsolete, the state BOE determined the entire middle school building be torn down in 2001, 2008, and 2016. The problem was since it was attached to the new high school it would have been cost prohibitive so it remained.

Currently, there are problems at all three buildings. The elementary school has flooding in hallways and classrooms due to a faulty septic system. The local board of health ruled that this health hazard does not meet current codes, and will cost $1 million to fix. The code violations also prohibit the sale or gifting of the building. The buildings have leaky roofs and faulty heating and cooling systems. A new water supply system is needed and will run from New Waterford at a cost of $3 million. If the levy passes, 88 percent of the cost for all repairs would be paid for by the state, including this new water system.

These problems were all the direct result of poor decisions and supervision by the Ohio BOE, whose expertise is curriculum, not construction. The Ohio BOE, in turn, contracted the work out. There was no quality control at any level of the construction phase. The end result was poor design, shoddy construction, and the use of inferior material. After problems with building more than 25 schools, the Ohio BOE is no longer building schools and all public construction is now under The Ohio Facilities Construction Committee (OFCC).

The following steps are in place to insure this will not happen again:

— There will be 8-24 months of staff and community involvement in planning the needs of each facility;

— Local labor will be used;

— All materials must be American made and sourced within 400 miles;

— Quality control inspections at every level of construction.

Because the buildings were built before the tragic Columbine shooting they are now considered unsafe by Homeland Security guidelines. Since this time, there have been more than 230 school shootings, with 143 fatalities, and 294 injured.

Some of the many safety measures in new buildings will include: high definition cameras in all parking lots, trees and hallways, instead of 21 entrances there will be only three, visitors will be buzzed in/out of shatterproof glass vestibules, visitor ID scanning, sprinklers installed throughout buildings (currently there are none), security lockdown measures for each classroom, and the new gym will be tornado proof and will withstand 150 MPH winds.

We now have a second chance on May 7 to pass a levy of 2.34 mills and .5 mills for permanent maintenance, which will be $5.2 million for a brand new building. It would cost $9 million alone just to repair our buildings. The state will give us 88 percent of the cost to build new. We cannot pass up this opportunity.

If this levy fails these problems will not go away. Repair money will come from immediate staff cuts, bus expenses, and curriculum and classroom materials. This is a direct disservice that will have a huge impact on our students. Let’s ensure the Crestview schools remain the most desirable and safest in the county. Regardless of whether or not you currently have children enrolled, please pay it forward for future generations and vote “yes” May 7.

LINDA MILLER,

Columbiana

BECKY ESTERLY,

Columbiana

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