Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Fairfield seeks levy renewal

Money would fund school repairs

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

FAIRFIELD - Roof repairs for several Fairfield City Schools would begin this summer if voters approve a 2-mill permanent improvement replacement levy the school board has put on the May 6 ballot.

The five-year levy, expected to generate about $2 million each year, would be used to fund a five-year plan that outlines improvements scheduled at each school and what year they would be made.

  Tours to show community members planned repairs are scheduled for 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.:
• April 28: Middle School
• April 29: Freshman School
• April 30: Intermediate School
• May 1: Central, North, South and West elementary schools.
Residents can check out the planned repairs during a series of school tours starting this month, said Superintendent Robert Farrell.

Most of the roof repairs are scheduled for the first year.

"The most urgent projects are earlier in the plan," said Robert Amodio, administrative assistant for business.

The next priorities are enclosing open stairwells and upgrading fire alarms, Amodio said. Less urgent work, such as asphalt or paving repairs, wouldn't be completed until the final year.

But one group says it is opposing the levy because its members don't believe the roofs are in such bad shape.

"I believe 100 percent they're feeding us a bill of goods on our roofs," said parent Arnold Engel, a member of the Citizens for Accountability and Results in Education.

"What this levy is about is taking the pressure off the general fund so we can give our teachers huge (pay) increases."

Engel said that once step increases are taken into account, teachers are receiving a greater pay increase than the 5 percent negotiated on the most recent contract.

School officials said money from a permanent improvement levy cannot be used for salaries.

Since the permanent improvement levy was first approved in 1978, the district's total building space has nearly doubled to 1.2 million square feet.

Besides roof repairs, the district plans to correct erosion problems under the bleachers at the stadium, Amodio said.

The plan also sets money aside for emergencies, such as a boiler going out.

Without the levy - renewed in 1983, 1988, 1993 and 1998 - only emergency repairs could be made, Amodio said. And those would have to come from the general fund.

If approved, the levy would increases taxes about $45 a year on a $100,000 house.

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