Fitch High School battles water problem

Editors note: In a previous report, it was stated that the water breaks occurred around dismissal time. Superintendent Vince Colaluca arrived at the high school building about 2 p.m., near afternoon dismissal. Colaluca did not intend to convey that all the breaks occurred in the afternoon, only that he arrived at the building during the afternoon hours.

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Students at Austintown Fitch High School dodged falling water Thursday after several water breaks in the building.

The aftermath of water dripping from the ceiling, puddles on the floor and damaged boxes was a little less dramatic than when it was actually happening.

The problem wasn’t water pipes but ventilator units that circulate warm water for the heating system.

Superintendent Vince Colaluca said several of the units broke in the building. A hallway and a few classrooms sustained minor damage.

No one was hurt when the units malfunctioned. Some of the breaks occurred during the morning hours and through the afternoon. Classes continued inside the building.

Maintenance crews worked to repair the damage Thursday and classes resumed without interruption on Friday.

“This is nothing new for us. We’ve dealt with this before,” said Colaluca. “These units are from the 1960s and they’ve broken before. We’ve had them break over the weekend and cause some damage.”

Colaluca said there was a lot of damage to the library from a previous incident.

“I believe it was estimated over $15,000 in damage with the books, the shelves, the carpet. That was unfortunate. Right now, we are blessed,” Colaluca said.

The timing of the leak is almost ironic after the Austintown Board of Education on Wednesday passed a resolution to place a bond issue on the May primary ballot to build a brand new high school that would replace the 50-year-old building. The 37-year, 4.1-mill bond issue would help fund the $64 million project.

The state agreed to put up $30 million toward the new school and Colaluca hopes that the community will come through again to make Austintown attractive for future residents. A previous bond issue helped pay for a new elementary and intermediate school on the same campus as the high school and middle school. Those schools opened at the beginning of the school year.

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