Temporary home lets students escape disruptive renovations at their school

April 08, 1997|By Stephen Henderson | Stephen Henderson,SUN STAFF

For nearly two months, the students and staff at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Baltimore have endured the disruptive jackhammering, roof-tarring and sandblasting of the men who are toiling to fix their aging Westside building.

The noise will stop today, when the school's more than 400 students file off buses into their new educational home -- 20 classrooms and an office in Greenspring Middle School on Greenspring Avenue, about six miles from Thomas Jefferson, which is on Dryden Drive in West Baltimore.

"We had to make a choice between inconvenience and the kids' safety and welfare," said third-grade teacher Loretta Daniel, who spent most of yesterday unpacking boxes of classroom supplies, photographs and bulletin board items for the students' arrival.

"This place might be a long way for our kids to travel, but it's in much better shape," she said. "I think we made the right decision."

Thomas Jefferson students will be housed in the surplus Greenspring space until September 1998, when the work on their building is to be completed.

The temporary quarters mean a twice-a-day, 20-minute bus ride for the students and less space for supplies and other stored materials. But they also provide an escape from a building that had become an environmental nightmare.

Teachers complained of a lack of running water, rust and mold on windows, and respiratory problems caused by mildew throughout the building. The school system began working on the building in February, but the distraction from the renovation had become a nuisance.

"Our building was built in the 1920s, and Greenspring was built in the 1950s," said Principal Havanah Kenlaw. "We just won't have the problems here that we had there. We originally believed we could live through all the work being done on the building, but that just wasn't possible."

Thomas Jefferson students will ride buses between their school and Greenspring before and after school. Classes will be held between 9: 30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to accommodate the bus trips.

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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