Officials say Austintown school issues show need for new building
By kalea hall
Issues with heating and cooling vents at Fitch High School led to five areas of flooding at the building — just a day after the board of education passed a resolution to have a bond issue on the May ballot for a new school.
“We have had issues in the past, and we will have issues in the future, and this is one of the reasons why the board asked the community to pass a bond,” Superintendent Vince Colaluca said.
The first waterfall to burst from the ceiling happened about 9 a.m. in a hallway. Two other incidents occurred in the hallways and two more inside classrooms. No one was hurt.
“It happened in isolated areas,” high school Principal Chris Berni said. “We were able to shut down that part of the hallway and reroute the kids.”
The problem was with uni-vents, which are used for heating and cooling of the building, Berni explained.
“Because it has been so cold, everything has been frozen and today the temperature rose enough to create a thaw, so there was frozen water in the lines and that caused the lines to burst and the water just literally pours out of the uni-vents,” he said.
Some of the leaks occurred on the first floor and the top floor.
One that occurred on the second-floor ceiling of a classroom trickled down into the cafeteria, but students already had finished their lunches.
“Our custodial team and maintenance are working together to clean it up,” Berni said. “ We are going to be here through the night on those five uni-vents.”
Western Reserve Mechanical is also helping with the cleanup and restoration.
This issue also occurred three years ago at the high school, Berni said.
The school, built in the 1960s, has a shallow ceiling, with different ventilators and not as much insulation as the new buildings the district has.
“It was designed a long time ago,” Colaluca said.
The 4.1-mill bond issue would raise $45,895,000 over 37 years for a new school, revamped auditorium, stadium and gym.
Of that, $10 million will go to the locally funded initiative of revamping the auditorium, stadium and gym.
The state is covering 47 percent of the $64 million project new school construction project.
“We recommend the smartest way is to use the state money to build a new school,” Colaluca said.
If the bond issue does not pass in May, then the board can decide to have a special election in August.
After that it will go into a “lapsed status,” which means the local share will have to be obtained before the state provides its share.