Tuesday, March 27, 2007
About the Joplin R-8 bond issue
I have had a few less posts the last couple of evenings because of school-related activities so I will share a couple of thoughts about those:
On Monday night, I was at South Middle School, where I teach eighth grade communication arts, serving as one of the tour guides for those who came to the open house on our campus. The tours were designed to make the public aware of the conditions at our school, and at North and Memorial middle schools. The basics have already been fairly well publicized:
-At South, we have a computer lab in what was once a boys' bathroom. The lab has enough room for 25 computers and we have classes with up to 30-32 students which sometimes have to use it. When you add the extra chairs for those who are having to share computers, the space to move around is nearly non-existent.
-Classrooms are also small. We showed classrooms that hold 30 students that have little or no room in which to move around.
-Neither South nor North has an actual gymnasium. The stage is used for physical education classes at both facilities, usually with both boys and girls classes going on at the same time. All basketball and volleyball games for South and North are played at Memorial.
-With all of the Joplin middle schools more than seven decades old, none are adequately equipped for the handicapped. The chair lift at South often takes more than the four-minute passing time to go between floors.
-State education guidelines advise that library/media centers are supposed to have enough room to comfortably have two classes in them at the same time. Our librarian at South has done a remarkable job with the converted classrooms that make up our media center, but it is a hardship to place two classes in there. During the third quarter, when my class did its annual research project on the Civil Rights movement, we spent two days in the library. When reading classes had their regular appointments to use the library on those days, they were restricted to one side of the room, had no access to the non-fiction section, and had no seating.
-Since South is 80 years old and has a flat roof, it has had serious leakage problems.
-Most of the lockers in the building are decades old. When they wear down, there are no replacement parts available because the companies that made them no longer exist.
-Parking facilities are inadequate. In the daytime, with the area in the back of the school used for physical education classes when weather permits and as a playground before school, the only lot holds about 20 cars. When parents come to daytime activities at the school, they often have to park a block or two away.
-The school has no adequate place for parents to drop off and pick up children. Our staff works hard to make sure people are on duty each morning before school, then again after school to avoid any accidents, but the danger is always there.
During my 30 years of being at schools as either a teacher or a reporter, I have seen many schools that were newer that were not as well maintained as South. Our administrators and janitorial staff have worked miracles with what they have been provided. If they have to keep on doing that after next week, they will do so and do so without complaining. Hopefully, for the sake of the children in the Joplin R-8 School District, their days of miracle-working are coming to an end and they can look forward to working in brand new buildings in a couple of years.
(Photo: Debbie Moore, the in-school suspension teacher at South Middle School, provides information to a few of those attending a tour Monday night sponsored by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Moore's basement room handles students from South and from North Middle School, which does not have room to house an in-school suspension class.)