As a community, I believe we have a responsibility to our youth to provide a safe and healthy environment in which to learn. In considering the upcoming school bond, I hope that citizens will be aware of some of the health-related concerns that have been raised about the current elementary school building.
The school has had recurrent problems with mold growth due to the leaking roof and poor ventilation. Poor air quality in classrooms exacerbates asthma symptoms, allergies and increases the rate of transmission of infectious illnesses. The Environmental Protection Agency has performed studies that show better ventilation in schools reduces the transmission of infections, and interestingly, also improves scores on standardized tests.
There is also a reduction in absenteeism with improved ventilation and air quality shown in these studies. It makes sense that if the air quality improves the health of the students then their academic outcomes also improve.
Another concern is that asbestos was used extensively in the construction of the current building, including the insulation, floor and ceiling tiles. Currently, the kindergarten classes nap on the asbestos tile floor covered with a thin carpet. The presence of the asbestos greatly increases the difficulty, expense, and health risks of remodeling the building.
Looking outside the building itself, there are areas of safety concern that can only be remedied by a new facility. The entrance to the school is poorly situated for drop off and pick up times. Many children walk and ride bicycles, and with the cars and buses, it is dangerous during the busy times of day. A new facility should improve the design of the outdoor area and thus the safety of these younger children coming and going from school.
Several outdoor areas of the current building and sidewalks suffer from stubborn ice build-up in the winter, and there are often falls on the slick areas.
These difficult issues unfortunately cannot be easily solved by repairing the current building. Please vote “Yes” on 3A and let’s support our community’s youngest students by providing them with a safe building in which to learn.
B.E.S.T timing for new elementary school
Longfellow’s building has served this community well, with multiple generations walking through its doors and attending school. Many fond memories were made at this school. But the building is not what it once was. It’s gone beyond its life expectancy and this shows.
You’ve likely heard about Longfellow’s decrepit state, worn out and weakened by age. It’s crumbling with systems that are outdated and border on being safe. The building is a health risk to students and staffers alike. One teacher said mushrooms grow in the fascia of her classroom, and this is not a science experiment.
The question is, what do we do about it? This building will absolutely have to be replaced, whether it’s in the coming year or soon afterward. Do we wait and pay more later? Or do we dig in and build a new school with the incentive of B.E.S.T. money to supplement the construction?
It’s unlikely the grant money will be around later. The conditions are beyond renovation. I urge you to build a new school now because our children need it.
Timing is everything and now’s the time. Some state legislators are considering B.E.S.T. funds for other budgetary items, which means 2013 may be the last year this grant is used for public school facilities. The Salida School District has worked hard to provide options to the community while listening to priorities.
Also, interest rates and building material costs are at an all time low. Don’t miss this opportunity.
In small communities we use our school buildings for more than educating our children. We use them for exercise classes, community meetings, concerts and more. This school building belongs to everyone in the community.
Public education is a right in this country. A good education is the great equalizer across every socioeconomic strata and makes us free. Children in rural areas deserve quality facilities for education just as other children across the country. Our youngest learners in Chaffee County need the best start possible. A quality school building will help provide this. Please do what’s best for our children, our future. Vote yes on 3A.