Fed-up school seeks action Glenwood Middle to give 22-page wish list to board

July 18, 1996|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

Parents, teachers and students at Glenwood Middle School say they are fed up.

The gym floor floods when it rains. Water seeps through the library walls, soaking books. The home economics cooking and sewing groups have to share space. And the cramped science lab has barely enough room to set up microscopes for labs.

Those are just a few of the complaints on the 22-page list of renovations needed for the 28-year-old building that the PTSA is taking to the Howard County school board July 25. But the board is likely to tell the PTSA there's no money for the improvements.

"They've come in and patched things up here and there -- repainting the walls, repairing plumbing or putting in tiles, but enough is enough," said Brenda von Rautenkranz, chairwoman of the PTSA's Renovations Committee, which is proposing the changes.

"This is a 1960s school, and this is the 1990s, and it hasn't changed a bit.

"We have used up every inch of space we have, and the teachers and the students have been patient for long enough," she said.

The group plans to give a tour of the school to parents July 22, organizers said. They are asking the school board to consider the school for future renovations.

But school officials say Glenwood Middle is not on any lists for renovations in the coming year -- and only the school board can change that.

"Glenwood Middle School is one of many schools in the county that needs to be renovated," said Sydney Cousin, associate superintendent of finance and operations. "We are addressing the needs of some schools, but it's a slow process, and there's only a certain number of projects the system can handle at one time."

For now, Cousin said, the school's projected enrollment does not warrant money from the capital budget for an addition, nor does its sturdy structure put it high on the budget for renovations or additions.

Merely needing to be updated and modernized in looks is not enough, he said.

"Until the time comes where we're going to do the entire building, it's going to stay old," Cousin said.

"We're not going to renovate it bit by bit, because it is simply not cost efficient."

Nine schools planned

More than half of the county's $34.5 million capital budget is used for building new schools or adding wings to schools, school officials said.

Five new elementary and three new middle schools are to open by 1999, and another middle school will open near Glenwood Middle in 2003.

Since a 1986 air-conditioning renovation, Glenwood Middle has received only minimal maintenance work, school officials said.

Parents fear that the county has forgotten about the 600 students in the school, focusing all of its attention on new schools.

Judith Caldwell, who has two children at the school, said it's time for the school to get help. "There's nothing wrong at Glenwood that a little fixing up wouldn't do," she said.

The biggest problem, teachers and administrators say, is space. Areas such as the library's storage closet have become the equipment room for the school TV station. In the guidance office, a closet holds about 600 confidential student records in file cabinets -- in an area with easy student access.

Margo Higdon, the school's music teacher, is feeling cramped. "At first glance, my room looks big enough, but as soon as you put in all of the modern equipment of keyboards, along with 30 guitars, plus 30 kids and an acoustical piano and you've got more stuff than my room -- at less than 1,000 square feet -- can handle," she said.

"In 1972, we had 30 desks, lined up perfectly in neat, little rows and the teacher walked down the middle, and that was the way things were taught," she said. "Now, we have the same space" with the technical gadgets of the 1990s, she said.

Parents complain

Parents complain that the school's health center has no waiting room or space for more than two sick students. They also say fumes from the science lab enter ventilation ducts in a special education testing room.

Teacher Leta Goudy says the home economics room often is "chaotic," with one group trying to start a cooking lesson near those who are sewing.

Materials for home economic lessons have to be stacked in plastic bins in the back of the classrooms because there's no space for preparation tables, she said. And setting up and putting away materials wastes valuable teaching time.

"I'm afraid sometimes that fabric threads will get mixed up in the food," Goudy said.

"The chairs are right up against each other and there's just such little space to work. If I don't have things perfectly set up for the activity, it can be a huge mess."

Principal Vincent Catania said his staff has learned to deal with the lack of space in the school by staggering groups in science labs, or bringing needed library books to the classroom on a cart, but the creativity is running out.

"We've done a lot with juggling the space and facility we have," he said, "but now it's time to do a little mortar and brick."

Pub Date: 7/18/96

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