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Parents concerned about raw sewage and bad drinking water at South Amherst Middle School

Posted at 5:28 PM, Oct 26, 2018

Raw sewage in the back and dangers inside. South Amherst Middle School is falling apart and parents shared their safety and sanitary concerns with News 5.

The school is part of the Firelands School District.

"They're [the students] encouraged not to drink out of the water fountains," said parent Nakita Doane.

The building's septic system is old too. There's raw sewage in the back of the middle school building that parents say is falling apart. 

"When conditions are poor, raw sewage trickles into Beaver Creek," Firelands School District Superintendent Mike Von Gunten said.

"It's just not a healthy learning environment," Doane said. "The water isn't safe to drink. There's sewage in the back. There's no sprinkler system if there's a fire. It's more than just cosmetic."

But there are more than safety concerns about the 108-year-old building.

"Technology-wise, there's nothing that can be offered here because they can't keep up with the internet," Doane said.

Von Gunten told News 5 those are a few of the reasons the district is renewing its push for a new middle school. 

To minimize cost the cost, the middle school would move into the existing high school and a new high school would be built as an addition, he said.

The district says if it doesn't get a new building they still face huge expenses.

"Our septic system is no longer EPA compliant," Von Gunten said.

The EPA mandated changes mean hundreds of thousands of dollars and Von Gunten said that just skims the surface.

"We have antiquated boilers. The safety and security of our students and staff is a major issue. Our roofs are problematic," Von Gunten said. 

The district has been here before. A push for a new school started in 2008, but during the recession, the district pressed pause on those plans. Then in 2016, voters said no to tax increases for a new school. 

So, why ask again? 

"What do you say to someone who feels this isn't necessary and frankly just doesn't want to pay for it?" News 5 asked.

"When you think about living in a community you have to understand that as any citizen we want to have roads that are safe, we want police, we want fire and education is an important aspect," Von Gunten said. "Assuming that if this levy doesn't pass nothing different is gonna happen is not realistic. Something is going to happen and its not going to be in the best interest of our kids and it's not going to be spending tax payer dollars wisely."

So how do the numbers break down on the ballot? It's Issue 7 in Lorain County and Issue 2 in Erie County.

The state share of the project is $5,297,765.

The local share of the project is $24,480,211 or 4.28 mills, which is $12.48 per month per $100,000 of home valuation.

The total project cost $29,777,976.

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