Oil tank leak drains FWCS crisis fund

Oil tank leak drains FWCS crisis fund

Another building problem has wiped out Fort Wayne Community Schools’ emergency funds.

“For the rest of the year, we’ll cross our fingers that we don’t have an emergency,” spokeswoman Krista Stockman said.

A leaking underground oil storage tank at Scott Academy has drained the remaining $56,000 set aside for such emergencies. The district began the year with $600,000 to spend but a tank removal at Pleasant Center Elementary and roof repairs at Harrison Hill Elementary took most of that money. The board is set to approve the work at Scott Academy, which has already begun, at its Monday meeting.

In the event of another emergency before January, Stockman said the district would have to dip elsewhere in its building fund, which is used to pay for equipment, technology, maintenance and security, as well as pre-planned projects. State law prevents the district from raiding other areas of its $284 million budget for building repairs.

“It’s not a secret that we have some problems with our buildings,” Stockman said. “If it was something catastrophic, we just plain wouldn’t have the money for that, and we would have to get real creative about what we’re going to do.”

A $500 million building renovation and expansion plan the district proposed a year ago to shore up its aging infrastructure was soundly defeated in a taxpayer remonstrance.

The district has long been concerned about what it calls a deteriorating heating system at Snider High School. “You still have to educate,” Superintendent Wendy Robinson said earlier this year. “People think, ‘Oh, you’re just crying wolf.’ It’s not in our best interest to disrupt the education of children.”

Stockman said planned projects or equipment purchases could be delayed in case of another emergency, but the cost of a large problem – even the size of Harrison Hill’s – could exceed those potential savings.

“That’s always a concern,” she said, “and that’s why we’ve been talking about a long-term plan.”

Last month, the board began discussion of a new long-term renovation plan, one that won’t give taxpayers sticker shock.

“I think we’re ready to go and explore and figure out how to do it in an affordable manner,” board President Mark GiaQuinta has said.

No details have been released, and no further discussions have been held since June 23.

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