Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield Community School District is moving forward with a plan to replace the Fairfield Middle School.
The school board approved a resolution during its Monday meeting to put the issue up for a referendum. Voters in the district will decide whether to approve a $34 million bond on Sept. 14.
If approved, the money will go toward building a new middle school just south of the current one, installing air conditioning in the Fairfield High School gymnasium, and relocating the tennis courts that would be displaced by the new middle school.
School Superintendent Laurie Noll held an informational meeting Tuesday night in the Fairfield Middle School to answer questions from the public and gather their input on the idea. Susan Rubis, whose daughter attended school in the district, said she came to Tuesday night’s meeting to learn more about the plan. She said she is a “big supporter” of public education, but was curious why the district is replacing the middle school when it is among the newest buildings.
“For older people, this is a new school,” Rubis said. “It was brand-new when we got here, unlike the high school, which was built in 1939.”
Rubis said Noll answered her question by talking about how the middle school, despite being built in 1968, is in worse shape than the other school buildings older than it. She said it may have to do with the building materials used at that time, and features of the middle school that made it prone to water problems like how the first floor windows are below ground.
“Water has leaked under those windows and caused some damage,” she said.
Noll said a survey of teachers in the district revealed that the middle school’s rooms are too small to accommodate what the teachers want to do with 21st century learning, involving more hands-on training with students.
Resident Adam Conilogue attended Tuesday’s meeting because he wanted to know why the district needs to build a new school now. He said that, after hearing Noll’s response, the plan makes sense given the poor state of the middle school building and the favorable interest rates. Conilogue said he has a personal stake in a new school since he has three young children, ages 8, 6 and 3, who will attend it.
“I grew up in Wyoming in the 1990s when the state was flush with mineral cash, and each town had a brand-new school,” said Conilogue, who graduated in 2000 from a middle/high school built four years prior. “It was so much easier to learn in a new school. Kids get excited about new stuff, too.”
Conilogue said the one question he had that was not answered was how the $34 million bond will affect the school’s tax levy, since the details on that will need to be worked out.
Noll said she plans to hold another informational meeting for the public next week at the same time and place, at 5 p.m. Tuesday at FMS.