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River Valley kids should be moved
Saturday, June 23, 2001
There's a realistic and practical way to bring about a prompt conclusion to the controversy over chemical contamination at River Valley schools.
Already, $24 million in federal and state money and another $19.6 million in local money have been set aside for relocating students to new buildings when they are completed in 2003 or later. So far, so good.
The last piece of the puzzle is finding a safe place for students until then. Once this happens, the controversy in Marion will be over, and the community can turn its attention to the future. Until it happens, each new discovery of contamination at the current site will be the occasion for more wrangling. No one wants this.
Fortunately, there is a solution.
Many Ohio school systems, including River Valley, already use modular classrooms to solve space problems. Modular units fit the classroom standards of the Ohio Department of Education and have been approved for school use. Eight hundred River Valley Middle and High school students can be housed economically and flexibly in 14 units.
It takes only two to three months to assemble and deliver these units to a site. In an emergency, this can be done in three to four weeks.
Multiple classrooms with a centered hallway can be added to one another, with built-up bathrooms as well as dining areas.
Tri-Rivers Joint Vocational School, a few miles from the River Valley schools site, is willing to provide 30 acres of free space behind its complex for temporary relocation of students.
Tri-Rivers owns two softball fields that have already been used by other schools. Other space for athletics can be found by working around the schedules of other area schools.
The cost for this solution is about $1 million, less than 3 percent of the money already committed to permanent relocation. There may be other sources for this money, as well.
The details are important, and we all look to the school district for leadership in working them out with the parents, administrators and teachers.
Everyone involved wants the same thing: to give Marion parents a chance to send their kids to school in September without doubts or fears for their health. Let's solve this now.
Simona Vaclavikova, program director
Ohio Citizen Action
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