10,000 students return to Fairfield Schools for 1st day

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
One of Butler County's largest school systems saw students return to classes Aug. 20.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Even after decades in public education, the first day of school never gets old for Fairfield Schools Superintendent Billy Smith.

Smith and hundreds of other district employees were up and out early Monday morning to greet the 10,000 students of Butler County’s Fairfield school system.

The district’s 11 schools, which serve both the city of Fairfield and Fairfield Twp., opened without any significant problems, said school officials.

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Smith took a quick break from touring Fairfield High School and said the emptiness of school buildings during the summer break is thankfully over.

“The first day of school is special. A school building that doesn’t have students inside of it … (schools) come to life when kids come inside,” said Smith, who has spent 22 years working in public education and is starting his third as superintendent.

Opening day “doesn’t get old,” he said.

“It’s been a great day already,” he said, pointing to the absence of any major scheduling or other logistical problems.

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Fairfield’s fleet of 75 school buses hit the roads in the district’s many communities, transporting 6,337 students to classes.

The fleet travels an average of 5,804 miles each school day.

There were no significant transportation during the first morning of the 2018-2019 school year, said Fairfield Schools spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher.

“We are excited to have everyone back this year. The theme this year is to have the best year ever and we are off to a great start,” said Gentry-Fletcher.

It’s also an historical year for the district as it is one of five in Butler County collectively pursuing a school security tax hike voters will decide on in November.

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The 10-year, 1.5-mill property tax hike, which voters in Hamilton, Edgewood, Monroe and New Miami will also decide on, is a first of its type for this region and the result of a new Ohio school funding law passed in March by state legislators.

Fairfield school officials will soon start a campaign to convince residents to vote for the tax increase, saying it would allow the district to pay for armed school resource officers in each school and also fund more mental health counselors to aid and identify troubled students who may resort to violence or bullying of classmates.

Officials at the Butler County Auditor’s Office said should the 1.5-mill tax win voter approval among voter in Hamilton, Fairfield, New Miami, Monroe and Edgewood school districts, they estimate on average the levy would raise the annual tax costs for the owner of a $100,000 home by about $52.

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Fairfield voters will decide Nov. 6 on the tax.

Last year Fairfield was one of the first in the region to open three new school buildings: Fairfield Freshman School and the Central and Compass elementary schools.