First look: A tour of Fairfield’s new Compass Elementary

When young students first enter Fairfield Schools’ new Compass Elementary next month they’ll be met by bright, colorful murals and an open-air concept designed to excite them about learning.

Fairfield school officials gave the Journal-News a first look tour of the new elementary now finishing construction across Holden Boulevard from Fairfield High School.

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The 91,000-square-foot school, which is nearly identical to the new Central Elementary also finishing construction about a mile north on Route 4 in the Butler County city, includes architectural features new to the city school system.

But more importantly, said Kim Wotring, principal of Compass, is what students — and their parents — will walk out with after seeing the new school when classes open Sept. 5.

“It’s very exciting. For me and for our staff, students and parents, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we have here to open up a brand new building that is state-of-the-art, brand new everything and it’s just gorgeous,” said Wotring, a veteran administrator with the district and a graduate of Fairfield Schools.

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“I’m really excited about the brand new building … but what I’m most excited about is the idea of bringing people in here,” said Wotring, as she paused this week from overseeing the set-up of 48 classrooms, a media center, learning conference rooms and a spacious gym.

“I cannot wait for our staff, students and families to get in here and have our building come alive and be able to bring people together across our district,” she said.

The unifying and rising community interest in the historic and simultaneous opening of three new schools next month is a rare feat among Southwest Ohio school systems.

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The $80 million school construction project also includes the new Fairfield Freshman School adjacent to the high school.

The Fairfield district will soon join Warren County’s Mason Schools as one of the few school systems in the region to have three schools — elementary, freshman and high school — all on the same campus separated only by a single roadway.

Fairfield school officials said opening three new schools will be transformational for the 10,000-student district, which also draws students from Fairfield Twp.

“The opening of Compass Elementary will have an impact that extends beyond its walls,” said Gina Gentry-Fletcher, spokeswoman for the district.

“The addition of Compass to our elementary roster completes a district-wide reconfiguration that provides fewer school transitions and more learning opportunities for our students. Everything about the new school is conducive to positive experiences for students, staff, parents and the community,” she said.

Teachers will begin moving into the new schools next week and preparing their classrooms for the later-than-normal start date on Sept. 5.

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