Advocates protest poor conditions at Carver Vo-Tech, applaud repairs

`Benign neglect' of school by city's system is decried

August 13, 2002|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

Advocates for Carver Vocational-Technical High protested yesterday what they called unacceptable conditions at the West Baltimore school, but applauded the school system for beginning to make renovations.

Del. Tony E. Fulton, a West Baltimore Democrat, said the school has suffered from "benign neglect" for years. "No kid should go to an institution in this condition," he told the small crowd gathered outside the building at Presstman and Bentalou streets.

Fulton and others have been complaining to the school system for weeks about conditions at Carver, including inoperable toilets, lack of running water, crumbling ceiling tiles and an outdated electrical system.

Isaiah Forman Jr., president of Carver's alumni association, said it is much like he left it after his 1959 graduation. "We need the community to get behind us to push this ball," he said.

The school system began making improvements in recent weeks in response to the pressure. It will spend about $500,000 in the short term to bring Carver "up to a more acceptable level," said Mark Smolarz, the system's chief operating officer.

Smolarz said the school system will submit a request to the state for fiscal year 2004 for planning approval to do more substantive renovations, which he estimated would cost between $30 million and $40 million.

"Unfortunately, it is one of many schools that's in need of renovations, and as we know there's limited dollars and a lot of need," Smolarz said. "We are slowly but surely addressing it, but it's going to take a lot of time and a lot of dollars."

Mary Alexander, a member of the parent-teacher organization, hopes the commitment to Carver by politicians and the school system will last. "It's our fear that this is just a political kind of thing and once everything ... dies down, the problem's still going to be around for our children," she said.

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