“Our school is gold, but our building is old,” said Karin DeAmicis, a mother of two Mountain View students.
DeAmicis has been active in campaigning for the rebuild of Mountain View Elementary with special purpose local options sales tax dollars.
Cobb Board of Education Chairman Randy Scamihorn expects Superintendent Michael Hinojosa or his staff to present the board with a list of seven schools that could be rebuilt at tonight’s meeting.
Only two of the seven will be selected for rebuilding. Scamihorn hopes the board will make its selection by its December 11 meeting at the latest.
A traffic jam DeAmicis and fellow Mountain View parent, Susan Tucker, stood above the parking lot on Wednesday afternoon and watched the traffic jam unfold as the final school bell rang.
Parents were lined up in their minivans and trucks almost 45 minutes before the school day ended. Once dismissal began, the parking lot filled with parents walking across it with their children, buses moving toward the exit, cars driving up the exit lanes to park and cars in the pick-up lane trying to exit.
There was no rhyme or reason to how the pickup system worked, said Tucker, who worries daily for the safety of her child, a fifth-grader at the school.
“I don’t like sitting on the road,” said Ruth Somerlot, parent of a first grader at Mountain View, who was sitting in the car lane at 11:45 a.m. for a 12:20 p.m. dismissal.
By noon, a long line of cars sat along Sandy Plains Road, waiting to turn right into the school.
Another parent, Darlene Leistra, who was waiting on foot in front of the school, said she had parked at the nearby Mountain View Library and walked to pick up her first grader, just to avoid the traffic in the pick-up line.
“I live 1.2 miles from here on Hickory Bluff Road. It will take me 35 minutes to pick up my child if I drive from home,” she said, which is why she parks at the library and walks to the school.
Banks’ proposal unpopular Board member David Banks, who represents the area, has been to visit the school twice this year, Tucker said. In August, he proposed building a road from Holly Springs Road to the school’s bus lanes, cutting behind the nearby community center and library. Parents didn’t think this would be a viable option, and were upset that money might be considered on a project they didn’t want.
“The board needs to run these things by us first. I think our money might be better spent,” if they do, and the parents agree to go along with the plans, said Tucker.
Parents all said they were happy with the school’s location, just not the traffic that was associated with getting their kids there.
Mountain View Elementary currently has just over 800 students, DeAmicis said. It has the capacity to hold 887.
The parking lot has 132 parking spaces, she added.
It is divided between three separate buildings, connected by enclosed breezeways that link the two further buildings, which house classrooms, to the main building. In order to get to the cafeteria, students have to walk through the breezeway, which doesn’t directly connect to the cafeteria.
The breezeway leads straight into the gymnasium, so when it is raining, or teachers don’t want to take their children across the outdoor walkway that runs through the parking lot to get straight to the cafeteria, they have to walk through and interrupt gym classes.
As the school day ended, two kindergarten classes trooped across the parking lot, which was overflowing with cars, with their teacher in order to get to the cafeteria for dismissal.
“It’s ridiculous. It opens them up to an unsafe environment, anyone can drive by and do anything,” said Kim Jones, the parent of a fourth-grader at Mountain View.
Board members Banks, Randy Scamihorn, Kathleen Angelucci and Brad Wheeler have all visited the school, Tucker said, and Tim Stultz, David Morgan and Scott Sweeney have been invited but have yet to make it out for a site visit.
Board members are just beginning their discussions on which two schools will be selected to be rebuilt, though Mountain View parents believe their school deserves a rebuild.
“We are just starting the conversation. I don’t know what schools will be chosen in the final decision. I can say Mountain View is an excellent school, and has an excellent faculty,” Scamihorn said, although many of the school’s top problems with the building, he believes, can be solved with further construction, it does not qualify for a complete rebuild.
“I believe their biggest problem is not so much the buildings, as poor construction and band-aid type repairs,” he said, noting the large amount of mold across many surfaces in the school.
Medicine to get through the school day
In the gym, the walls are leaking with rust-colored streams of liquid, where flags and posters hang to cover the peeling spots on the wall.
As parent-teacher conferences and a book fair went on, parents, students and teachers walked through the halls where patches of gray mold were visible.
The back of the school is built partially underground, and the school has experienced severe flooding, especially last March, DeAmicis said.
The outside walls of the school were spotted with patches, where leaking holes had been attempted to be patched up with tar, but to no avail, Tucker pointed out.
Teachers and students, including her daughter, have had to start taking medicine just to get through the school day, DeAmicis said.
One teacher, who wished to speak off the record to protect her job, said she is taking medication to deal with the increased moisture and mold in the school’s classrooms.
The school has its own foundation, Mountain View Elementary Foundation, which raises money to fund extra technology, science and other improvements for the school, Tucker said, although, “No offense to Chick-fil-A, we can’t sell enough chicken biscuits to build a new school.”
The parents at Mountain View want it to be rebuilt to alleviate the building’s mold and leaks and address the traffic and safety concerns of the outside walkway.
They want the full support of Banks, who has recently shown support to merge two other elementary schools: Eastvalley and Powers Ferry Elementary.
Until they have assurance they will be taken seriously for a rebuild, the parents will not stop lobbying their board members and showing up dressed in yellow shirts at the board’s meetings, they said.
Tonight’s board meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be in the board room at 514 Glover St. in Marietta.