Year 1 look back: Fairfield’s 3 new schools are winners

The chronological odometers on Fairfield’s three new schools has reached year one, and district officials say the buildings are performing better than anticipated.

Last year Fairfield created a historic first for the Butler County district when it opened three new schools simultaneously to kick off the 2017-2018 school year.

The new schools – Central and Compass Elementary and the Fairfield Freshman School – drew thousands of residents to open houses curious to see the state-of-the-art schools. The brightly colored interiors, spacious designs, mural-covered walls and high-tech classrooms have proven popular over time with students and staff, said school officials.

Billy Smith, superintendent of the 10,000-student school system, said looking back over year one he is struck on how the three schools have “received a lot of positive feedback about the open learning spaces in each of our buildings.”

“These open spaces allow our staff members some flexibility as they plan lessons that encourage collaboration. And there is a sense of pride and appreciation from our students, staff, and parents. As a school district, we are so thankful that we serve a community that is so supportive of our school district,” said Smith.

Fairfield and Fairfield Twp. residents approved a tax hike in 2014 to pay for most of the $80 million price tag for the schools, with the state school facilities fund paying a portion.

To save on costs, the new Central and Compass elementary schools are nearly identical.

The old Central Elementary, which had no central air conditioning, sat on the same campus site was once the second oldest school in the county before being demolished in 2017.

Joe Penny, director of business operations for Fairfield Schools, said “we have been extremely pleased with our new facilities.”

“As expected with any large construction project, we’ve experienced a few issues that we have worked with our construction team and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission(OFCC) to resolve. I consider many of the adjustments we have made to be part of the natural progression towards providing the best and safest educational environment possible for our students,” said Penny.

Fairfield Board of Education Vice President Michael Berding said he often hears “how happy the parents are with the new security measures taken at the new buildings.”

“The way that visitor traffic must flow to enter the front doors and the number of security cameras at each new building has given parents peace of mind that their children are safe at the new school buildings,” said Berding.

“Parents have also commented that the environment is more conducive to learning with the buildings further off the road, windows shut, and no fans blowing in the hot weather. The noise from the traffic and fans made learning difficult at old Central and (adjacent) old Freshman schools. Students can now concentrate on the subject matter being taught,” he said.

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