Public agencies invited to tour Conesville Elementary School

| November 25, 2015
Tour: Conesville Elementary School Principal Joel Moore demonstrated a safety issue with one of the building’s doors during a tour he gave on Nov. 24 to representatives of community agencies. Beacon photo by Josie Sellers

Tour: Conesville Elementary School Principal Joel Moore demonstrated a safety issue with one of the building’s doors during a tour he gave on Nov. 24 to representatives of community agencies. Beacon photo by Josie Sellers

CONESVILLE – At Conesville Elementary School there is a faucet that is left constantly running. This is the only way school officials can make sure their water has the right pH level.

Crack: There is a crack in a wall at Conesville Elementary School that has widened so much over the last six or seven years that Principal Joel Moore has been able to place nine pennies in it. Beacon photo by Josie Sellers

Crack: There is a crack in a wall at Conesville Elementary School that has widened so much over the last six or seven years that Principal Joel Moore has been able to place nine pennies in it. Beacon photo by Josie Sellers

Principal Joel Moore and River View Local School District Superintendent Dalton Summers took representatives of community agencies on a tour of the school Nov. 24 to show them some of the building’s quirks and hazards.

Moore likes to compare the building to an old tractor his family had.

“You knew how to make it run, but you couldn’t let anyone else borrow it because they wouldn’t know how to keep it from running out of gas or the battery going dead,” he said.

This is just the first of several tours the district is planning to show the public why they need to pass a bond issue next year to build a new elementary school. The Ohio School Facilities Commission recently informed the district that its plan to combine its four elementary schools into one new building connected to the current junior high and renovate it and the high school was accepted.

“I’ve heard over and over again from people how well kept our buildings are and it’s against my nature to show people what’s wrong or not up to standard, but it’s time to show people the reality of these (elementary school) buildings,” Summers said.

Moore, who is in his 10th year at the school, started the tour by showing attendees pictures hanging in the hallway of classes that went to Conesville in the 1930s-1950s and some more current ones.

“I’m proud of all these folks,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of them and heard their stories. I’m proud of the younger groups too, but not proud of the fact that they were in the same building as their great-grandparents.”

The original part of Conesville Elementary was built in 1917 and additions were made in 1935 and 1955. It was not built to have Internet cables running through it as Moore pointed out to the tour group once they were outside.

“All around the building we have cables running outside and to windows,” he said. “You can’t put cables through these thick walls.”

Moore also noted that the 345 students have to wait outside in all kinds of weather before school starts and there also are two modules that date back to the 1980s that the students use for a computer lab, science lab and for music class.

The school also has experienced problems with its roof and water and sewer systems.

“The sewer backs up all the time and we have to snake it out,” Moore said. “The pipes are 80 years old.”

Moore made sure to point out cracks in the building, where water leaks around windows, the lack of sidewalks around the building, the parking lot that has to be double parked, the outside door that doesn’t always latch and the lack of handicap accessibility.

“There are a lot of steps in this building,” Moore said. “If we have an assembly and a grandparent wants to come watch (but is handicapped) we have to take them in through the custodian’s entrance and then we can only get them to the bottom floor.”

Another one of the many problems Moore pointed out is that the building wasn’t built for little children.

“The newer part of the building is where are youngest kids are,” he said. “They are trying to do personalized learning in a building not built for it. They do an excellent job though despite the rooms they are in. It’s like magic in here, unless it starts raining and then they have to move everything away from the windows.”

Learning in the school though when it’s hot is a whole different story.

“On the third floor it can get up to 104 and 106 degrees and that’s in September,” Summers said.

The school, however, does have one bonus that the others in the district don’t.

“It’s the only building that has cell phone service,” Summers said.

Moore said mass text messaging is part of the staff’s emergency plan.

“We were on lock down once this year when there was an incident outside off school grounds that made us nervous,” he said. “Our teachers were under pressure, but our system worked. The teachers were texting each other and telling them where kids were and that they were safe.”

Moore ended the tour by showing everyone a crack in a wall in one of the stairways where he had put pennies in.

“I started doing this six or seven years ago and there are nine pennies in there now,” he said.

When the tour ended Summers reminded attendees that this was only one of four buildings that are all in very similar condition.

“We invited you here because you are in contact with people,” he said. “Whether you agree or disagree with us you have now seen firsthand the condition of one of our buildings,” he said.

Summers explained that there will be public tours of the schools planned for the near future to help the district get the word out about its need to pass a bond issue next year.

“Industries that may want to come to town are going to want to look at the schools,” he said. “They are going to see the new school in Coshocton and the fairly new one for Ridgewood and then ours. Our state test for achievement scores came back pretty good but people don’t always care about scores. Our buildings aren’t going to attract people to the community.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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