No hidden agendas at WCHS
Washington Community High School Board of Education members are doing everything right.
When it became clear they could no longer wait, board members began looking at what the school’s options were as far as updating and repairing the aging facility.
They did their homework.
They allowed community members to tour the school, and are doing so again.
They invited the community to participate in the planning process, being sure to keep everything out in the open.
The original high school was built in 1942 with two additions in 1955. Torry Gymnasium was built in 1961 while the last addition, Ashbrook Vocational Building, was constructed in 1975.
Because Torry Gym and the Ashbrook building are not attached to the main building, students must walk outside to get to classes in either of those buildings.
For PE classes, this means they are walking between Torry Gym and the main building in T-shirts and shorts.
This is not acceptable.
The school recognizes this is an issue, but without renovation there is not a lot the administration can do to correct the situation.
Aside from students being forced to walk outside in inclement weather, there is the security factor.
Because students are required to walk outside to classes in the other buildings, access doors that should be locked are not. Anyone could walk in. They probably would be picked up on security cameras or noticed by a teacher in the hall, but by then it’s too late.
In the past, that may not have been an issue.
However, times have changed.
There is a prevailing threat to the safety of our children.
Then, there is the overall condition of the school itself.
A thorough inspection of the high school proved the building to be structurally sound overall.
But there are major issues.
During a tour of the school Monday night, we saw one English room with cracks where the floor meets one wall.
That crack, while not a safety threat to our students, is not conducive to a learning environment when students can hear what is going on in the other room.
Dean of students Karen Stevens gave an example from when that room was hers.
She said her students could be taking a test and under normal, ideal circumstances, the room would be quiet. However, because of the cracks, her students would be distracted by what was being taught in the drama room below.
Other rooms in the building may not have the same soundproofing issue, but there are other concerns.
In room 234, a science room, it is not well suited for lab work. Although cramped, it works for lectures and tests on reading material.
However, when the class needs to do a lab, they must gather their belongings and switch rooms with another teacher.
In room 232, there are no hoods for ventilation.
For this reason, the science labs are a priority targeted by the renovation referendum
A lot of people are focusing on the $18.4 million price tag approved by the school board. But they are forgetting that board members voted down the more expensive option, knowing it was too much.
They did not go into this decision lightly.
Residents should remember that a community is only as strong as it people. And our students are our future.
They deserve the best we can give them to succeed in life.