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’Bula firefighters - report of smoke at old school building

By:  Star Beacon - Shelley Terry

ASHTABULA — City firefighters were called Tuesday morning to the vacant Washington Elementary School building after someone reported smoke coming from the roof.

At 10:09 a.m., when firefighters arrived at 917 Lake Ave., they discovered light smoke and an electrical odor in the air, according to Ashtabula Fire Department reports.

An Ashtabula Area City School District official already had begun shutting off electric circuits, firefighter reports show.

The school official told firefighters there has been a problem with the electrical wiring, reports show.

After 40 minutes of investigating the situation, and finding no fire, firefighters left the scene.

The school has been vacant since October when the school board auctioned off the contents and obsolete equipment.

In February 2009, the school board voted 4-1 to close Washington and Thurgood Marshall elementary schools and reduce staffing. The decision came after Superintendent Joseph Donatone and the board discussed whether to place a 4.9-mill tax levy on the May 2009 ballot, or reduce staff and close schools in fall 2009.

The board voted 3-2 to place the levy on the ballot, but a 4-1 vote was needed, so it did not pass. Board member Steve Candela and former board member David Sheldon cast the two no votes. Consequently, the board closed the schools and reduced staffing.

Donatone’s proposal included closing Washington and Thurgood Marshall elementary schools and moving fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from city schools into what had been Lakeside Junior High School on West 44th Street. The board went with Donatone’s proposal, and the former LJHS now is called Lakeside Intermediate School.

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