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Rags to Riches: Vacant School Full of Squatters Turning Into First Bilingual Academy
DAYTON -- A major eyesore in East Dayton that's been home to squatters and looters for more than a year will finally be cleaned up.
We showed you exclusive video inside the former Boys and Girls Club in August when squatters first got in. Neighbors called the city to come board up the windows.
"So the windows weren't always boarded up and even when they were, they would find ways in," said Nicki Hagler of Mangen and Associates, who will be helping to revamp the school.
As we walked through the building Friday, we had to watch every step. We saw everything from broken beer bottles in the classroom, to ripped apart ceiling tiles in the pool area, to shattered backboards in the gym.
For more than a year now, squatters have gotten into the vacant building and have done with it whatever they wanted.
"Ripping out toilets and showers for no reason," said Hagler.
Now the new Dayton SMART Elementary non-profit school is taking things over. In fact, they're scheduled to open for classes in August.
"It's been vacant for a little over a year so we're excited about giving back to the community and being able to clean it up," said Director of Instruction for Dayton SMART Elementary Cassandra Ward.
So how do they plan to turn this dump around for 150 kindergarten to second-grade students? Lots and lots of volunteers.
"They should've hired a goat," said George Lynch.
After homeless people tore this building apart, Lynch, who is also homeless man, wants to help turn it around.
"I just dropped by to help out," Lynch said. "I still have a good heart, a lot of people bum, I don't."
And they plan to have hundreds more volunteers tomorrow, as they begin cleaning up the entire place, inside and out.
"Everything will be new inside, fresh paint on the wall, fresh flooring and ceiling, and all that, plumbing and electricity, all of that will be redone," said Ward. "So we really plan to gut the building from inside. the building itself, the foundation is fine."
If you would like to volunteer to help clean up the building, you can meet there Saturday anytime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Dayton SMART Elementary School, Dayton's bilingual academy, is accepting applications for children entering kindergarten, first and second grades for next year.
For more info, contact Ward at 937-546-5216 or click here to learn more about Dayton SMART Elementary School.
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