City school maintenance problems

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 15, 2006

School board addresses CHAT and Selma High buildings

By Cassandra Mickens

The Selma Times-Journal

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Selma City School board members addressed Superintendent Dr. James Carter regarding maintenance problems at Selma Middle CHAT Academy and Selma High School.

During Thursday night’s meeting board member Coley Chestnut, who oversees Selma school buildings and grounds, presented photos to the board of the girl’s dressing room located near SHS’ old gymnasium. The dressing room houses one toilet and the door usually attached to the toilet area lays on the floor. The board also learned the room lacks sufficient light and the showers – moldy and mildewed – are out of order.

“I was very distressed with what I saw,” Chestnut said. “That’s an area we really need to address immediately. It does not represent us well.”

Added board member Deborah Howard, “I was embarrassed to see those kids over there in those conditions. These are our children. Those conditions are uncalled for.”

Female students currently use SHS’ old gymnasium for physical education classes while male students use SHS’ new gymnasium. Board members questioned why female P.E. classes aren’t held in the new gymnasium, which accommodates males and females.

“Shouldn’t the girls be entitled to the proper facility as well?” said board member John Williams.

Carter said he has spoken with SHS administration about moving female P.E. classes to the new gym.

“(The new gym) should be utilized more. It isn’t,” he said.

Chestnut went on to mention the current status of SHS’ drafting room, which is home to roughly eight garbage cans used to catch leaking water. At CHAT Academy, another dressing room is in need of repair and a bee nest located on side of the building needs to be removed.

Board President Ben Givan said he is tired of school maintenance workers “patching up” problems or not acknowledging the problems at all.

“It appears to me our present employees who are working in maintenance are not doing their job,” he said. “We can’t have that at the high school.”

Carter said the school system is in the process of finding a qualified architect and construction company to renovate SHS’ girl’s dressing room, which “has been in disrepair for years.” Carter later added he would update the board about SHS’ and CHAT Academy’s status during their next meeting in October.

Chestnut said the maintenance problems must be attacked with a strong sense of urgency, citing a request was made to fix the problems at SHS back in June.

“Something should have happened by now,” Chestnut said.

“The board’s gonna be accountable and responsible. This board is gonna go over there and we’re gonna get the job done,” Givan said. “We’re not going to stand by and expect our boys and girls to learn when we know (the schools) aren’t conducive for learning.”

The board passed a motion to closely monitor the “deficiencies” at SHS and CHAT Academy and to authorize Dr. Carter to place a marquee at the new Selma Board of Education building on Broad Street because “you can’t see the letters on the building,” Givan said.

After listening to the board’s concerns, Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. – who was present at the meeting – said the night’s conversation prompted him to push forward in the construction of a new Selma High School.

“The City of Selma needs to take on building a new high school,” he said. “I’m convinced with the support of the citizens we can get that done. I pledge to begin the process from my office.”

In other business:

Seven Selma schools received funding from the state for outstanding academic achievement on Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Schools recognized are Edgewood Elementary ($16,800), Kingston Elementary ($8,500), Knox Elementary ($8,500), Cedar Park Elementary ($2,500), Byrd Elementary ($2,500), Payne Elementary ($8,500) and Clark Elementary ($8,500).

The school board received $250,160 Reading First grant from the state.

The board unanimously approved a bid from Selma Printing Company for printing services in the amount of $22,908.25.

The board unanimously approved a bid for 15 Dell PC and 28 Dell notebook computers for the Special Education Department in the amount of $40,657.82.

The board unanimously approved the school system’s Child Nutrition Program Handbook. Copies of the handbook are available at the Selma Board of Education building on Broad Street.