By DAVID GREEN
The Fayette school building project can now move forward following the board of education’s decisions last week. The board’s votes at a special meeting Jan. 31 surely brought a sigh of relief from those involved in the project and from community members.
Not everyone is pleased with the decision and the school district will suffer from that outcome. A segment of the community once known for its strong support of the school district may now be less likely to serve as a booster. The group may be small in number, but it’s an influential cluster of citizens and a serious blow to school/community relations.
There are still significant challenges ahead before Fayette students walk into a new school building, away from the present contaminated site. Some of the most significant will be faced by those in the village offices rather than at the school. Roads, sidewalks and sewers top the list, and costs associated with the work will likely trickle down to village residents.
Building a new school is a novel undertaking for board members and administrators. The board has little to go by other than the guidance of the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OSFC).
Perhaps some leadership from the OSFC was absent in the early stages of the project. The experience gleaned by the OSFC should have pointed out the necessity of involving community members and village officials right from the start. The earliest meetings about needs and options should have included a wider range of faces at the table.
School officials will now move forward, hobbling a little from the turmoil of recent weeks, and hoping to avoid a “referendum” on the May ballot in the form of a challenge to the required continuous maintenance millage.– February 8, 2006