One of the first actions of the newly constituted, Governor-appointed board (except for three) was to approve the decision to forgo leasing trailers/modulars/learning cottages and use only trailers owned or being purchased by the school system. Although the newest published list of vendor spends (July, 2013 edition) shows that Williams Scotsman, the company we leased trailers from was paid $796,301.74, we anticipate that they will no longer be paid by DeKalb schools.
However, this has had some very unexpected consequences for a few schools, and possibly more. As we posted two weeks ago, the school system supposedly ‘refreshed’ and remodeled all system-owned trailers. Unfortunately, they forgot to take care of the 16-unit modular outdoor school located at Vanderlyn Elementary. The modulars had been cleaned out by teachers last May, yet nothing had been done about the trailers. The weekend before school started, after being alerted by concerned parents, the school system started the replacement project at Vanderlyn. It continued for two more weeks, disrupting learning throughout the building due to cramming 16 classrooms into an over-capacity building. It looks like the project is complete, but the end result is a ‘village’ of only eight single trailers and a bathroom. This is eight less than Vanderlyn originally had. And the refurbished trailers aren’t quite as roomy or as nice. But it’s done.
Click here to read the post on Vanderlyn. Here is a photo of the scene there.
Now, we have just been sent photos of what appears to be decrepit, moldy, old trailers with shaky wooden steps and no handicap accessibility at Henderson Middle School – another severely over-crowded school awaiting an addition built with SPLOST IV funds. These trailers actually look uninhabitable and would probably be condemned by an inspector who cared. They certainly do not look refreshed or renovated in any way. They don’t even look ADA compliant. Take a look – would you want your child to spend their time in one of these?
They are reminiscent of the mold and decay at Chamblee High School before that building was completely rebuilt. A similar situation occurred at Cross Keys – the old DSW posted a disturbing article about that. Read about it here. Cross Keys has had ‘some’ renovation done, however, their track is still dangerous and cracked and they still have no auditorium like other high schools. Much of their renovation budget went to rebuilding the High School of Technology North, after the school system sold that original site to Georgia Perimeter College and merged the N. Tech High in with Cross Keys.
The point is, decisions still don’t seem to be made based on enrollments and projections and dire need. Decisions still seem to be politically based, as the administration and board somehow still have the idea that the construction money must be evenly divided across districts – regardless of need. This was a concern of SACS, and it’s certainly a concern of ours. We do not agree that some students must suffer in decrepit, over-crowded schools simply because their school is in a district with more needs than others, yet is allocated relatively the same amount of attention. SPLOST IV projects should have been decided and scheduled according to the enrollment demands (current and future) and need based on conditions.