KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — Parents in Kirkersville are fighting against the school board, administration and the local library looking to temporarily move into a school building.
The Pataskala Public Library is set to move into Kirkersville Elementary School alongside students in June. The library agreed to lease about 10,000 square feet for “about 12 months” while the library is under renovation. Some parents said having public library patrons in the same building as their students presents a safety risk.
“Schools are already at risk, and so to allow anybody to enter the grounds just puts that at even more of an increased risk,” Amanda Stasiowski, the mother of a Kirkersville first grade student, said.
Stasiowski is one of more than 400 people who have signed a petition to keep the library out of the school building. Parents said they’re also upset about the school board’s lack of communication.
“We’re very frustrated just that we’re left to live with the decisions that they’ve made when they’re clearly not the best decisions for the sake of the child,” parent Todd Troutman said. “This is their responsibility, professionally. And I should not be the one, professionally, giving them pointers on how to keep our kids safe.”
Kaysea Troutman, Todd’s wife, agreed.
“Your biggest job when being part of a school board I think is to think of the safety of the kids,” Kaysea Troutman said. “And I think that wasn’t fully thought through.”
Pataskala Library Director Jeff Rothweiler is behind the library’s move to Kirkersville Elementary during renovations. He was also there when the library underwent renovations in 2011, forcing the library to find a temporary home then.
Rothweiler said he was surprised to hear about parents’ discontent — as well as the petition.
“We felt like we had a good plan in place to provide a safe, secure environment for those kids,” Rothweiler said.
Part of that plan includes modifying library hours, enlisting a monitor to watch parking lot activity while children are outside, establishing a school resource officer, building walls to separate the library section from the rest of the building and making sure no doors connect the library to where students learn.
Rothweiler added that the board of education spent two or three months discussing the lease in public meetings.
But some parents think the extra measures aren’t sufficient.
“Allowing our community and neighboring cities to be able to just walk on to a school and into a building without any detection or knowing their background, it just puts the kids at an increased risk,” Stasiowski said.
School Board President Catherine Spindler said in a statement that the board of education approached the leasing agreement cautiously and ultimately came to a decision it felt was appropriate.
“The library worked with their contractors and were able to address all the concerns and the BOE felt that they more than adequately met those needs,” Spindler said
Kaysea Troutman said she and the rest of these parents aren’t ready to back down from their stance.
“They’ve said that this eliminates two to four months of their renovations and honestly, I don’t feel like that’s the school’s problem or our children’s problem,” she said.
Rothweiler said the school and library are moving forward with the plans. The school board has passed the issue and a two week move-in is scheduled for June.