But board members say little can be fixed anytime soon.
When money from the education SPLOST IV, approved by voters in March, begins coming in this January, the school system hopes to gather enough funding to rebuild two elementary schools.
In the meantime, board members said little can be done to alleviate the major problems inside the schools, and even when the funding comes through, construction for a new school won’t start until 2016, said Chris Ragsdale, the district’s deputy superintendent of operational support.
In turn, more than 20 people stood at the lectern in their school colors Thursday night, yellow for Harmony Leland Elementary, red for Brumby Elementary and yellow for Mountain View Elementary.
They stood with their children, who were long past their bedtimes, and recounted stories of leaky roofs, mold-infested classrooms and students marching through crowded parking lots to get to classroom trailers.
Taking steroids ‘to get through day’
Karin DeAmicis, who has a daughter at Mountain View Elementary, said on the seventh day of the school year, her daughter had severe problems breathing. Her daughter now takes multiple medications every day, and DeAmicis asked the board, “Why (does) my first-grader has to take steroids just to get through a school day?”
People came forward with similar stories for almost an hour, many were followed by cheering and applause, but only two of the three elementary schools represented by people at the meeting will be rebuilt.
The board listened patiently, but it has been hearing about these buildings for months, parents said.
Susan Tucker, who has a fifth- grader at Mountain View Elementary, said requests her principal made in March went unanswered, and a group of parents rallied around her to petition the board.
“We understand it’s going to be a long time, but the Band-Aids aren’t working anymore. Do something,” she said.
Board members Kathleen Angelucci, Brad Wheeler and David Banks went out to visit Mountain View last week, Tucker said, and were very understanding and supportive of the school’s needs, according to Tucker.
A lengthy list of emergency fixes
Board member David Morgan said he had the administration and parents at Harmony Leland Elementary put together a list of projects that needed immediate attention and sent it to the superintendent’s office.
Morgan said it was a list of, “whatever can be fixed in the interim to stave off complete implosion.”
He said he passed it on on to the superintendent’s office, and that maintenance had been working to make the repairs.
Ragsdale confirmed that projects, such as installing new carpeting throughout the building, fixing broken sinks on the kindergarten hallway and working to remove a “damp musty odor throughout the building,” were in progress, but no timeline had been set for completion.
An air-quality test done on the building recommended that a new HVAC system be installed, and Ragsdale said that would be done this summer, regardless of what elementary school the board chooses to rebuild.
Board Chair Randy Scamihorn said, “there’s no tangible plan yet, but we will start discussions next month.”
First, they will look at the needs of the schools, then choose what their goals are, and then set a timeline for achieving their goals, he said.
The decision is many months away, he said.
While new school buildings will not be constructed for at least two years, if the estimated SPLOST collections bring in enough funding, parents and students are still adamant about fixing up these buildings in the meantime.
The SPLOST is expected to bring in another $717 million for Cobb County schools.
Ten-year-old Alexis Jones, a fifth-grader at Harmony Leland, brought in letters from her classmates and gave her own speech to the board. She asked for a commitment to fix her elementary school, even though she graduates this year.
Scamihorn said he doesn’t think the district needs to hire more maintenance workers, but that he will make sure that they “give attention to the needs as they happen.”
Parents vowed to continue to show up at board meetings until the board selected the schools that would be rebuilt.