Act quickly on school slips

School board members and administrators in the Martins Ferry City Schools District are dealing with a slippery situation, and they need to act sooner than later.

It was revealed during a board meeting this week that portions of the hilltop campus are slipping away. It seems that soil in two locations – behind the elementary school and behind the bus garage. Board member Nick Stankovich, a former superintendent of the district, believes the problems began during construction in the mid-2000s. He said excess dirt excavated during landscaping was dumped in those areas but wasn’t sufficiently packed. Now it is freezing and thawing, cracking and slipping away toward other properties down the hill.

To make matters worse, the property where the slips are occurring was never transferred into the district’s name after it was paid off. That makes it more difficult for school officials to remedy the problem.

And people in the surrounding area apparently see the places where dirt was disposed of as a general dumpsite. Board member Bill Suto said people have dumped tree limbs, garbage and more on top of the sliding earth.

Board members decided to consult with the original contractor, Dino Colaianni of Dillonvale, about the problem. They would like to have an engineer evaluate the situation and make a report so they will know how to mitigate the slips.

They also plan to address the incomplete transfer of the 58 acres that are not in the district’s name.

These are appropriate actions, but all of this needs to be done quickly. Residents of our region know that landslips are serious, and they can become much worse in the blink of an eye – especially during wet weather.

While these slips apparently present no urgent danger, they should be addressed and corrected as soon as possible. The community and the state made a significant investment in Martins Ferry’s children when the relatively new campus was built, and that investment needs to be protected – along with the properties that lie beneath the campus.

We urge the board and administration to move quickly, and we encourage Colaianni to provide as much assistance as possible. The future of the city’s schools depends on it.