Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

February 04, 2007

Mount Hebron deteriorating

As I read the article about Mount Hebron's "sewage leak" (The Sun, Jan. 28) I was appalled and dismayed. As a current senior at Mount Hebron, I can tell you that not "everything looks great," as school board Chairman Diane Mikulis stated.

Mount Hebron is slowly but surely falling apart, and this second sewage leak has further eroded my confidence in the school board to make things right at Hebron. Just in this past semester, we have had two sewage leaks, and I can tell you that it is not an environment that I, or anyone else, should have to learn in.

I have walked through an already crowded hallway and been forced to dodge a trashcan that was placed below a ceiling dripping with urine. I have sat and tried to take a midterm exam while the stench of human excrement lingered around me. I have seen the brown stains that remain on the floor of the science wing where the leak occurred. And I have been warned by teachers and students to never drink out of the water fountains.

The deplorable conditions of Mount Hebron sadden me because it is such an outstanding school. We are known throughout the state and nation because of our prowess in athletics and our academic achievements. Our facilities should represent the talented students and staff who are proud to be a part of the Mount Hebron community.

The board needs to wake up and take a serious look at the conditions at Mount Hebron High School because they are only going to get worse and the students and staff are growing continuously unhappy with the environment they are forced to learn and teach in.

Sarah DeNapoli Ellicott City

Our older schools are falling apart

The response of Mr. [Ken] Roey, the Howard County public school system's executive director of facilities and management, to the recent sewage leak at Mount Hebron High was disheartening and a matter of concern.

Mr. Roey's dismissal of the matter as "an isolated failure and we've repaired it" indicates a lack of concern for the teachers, parents and students in regard to the impact of incidents of sewage leaks throughout the school for a period of five years. In this school year alone, there have been three incidents, involving sewage spewing from sinks, urine running down walls and into hallways, and sewage coming through the ceiling of classrooms, landing on teachers, students and their midterm exams.

In the next breath, Mr. Roey is stating that other Howard County schools are in the same condition as Mount Hebron. If true and other Howard County teachers work in an environment in which at any time sewage can rain down on them, or if they teach in classrooms with evident mold, then we as a county need to start thinking about combat pay for those who serve in the classroom. However, pitting Howard County high schools against each other is not productive.

The reality is that our older schools are falling apart. Population growth resulted in a shifting of capital dollars from needed renovations or maintenance needs of our older schools to building needed space. During that time, certain schools, such as Mount Hebron, pulled more than their weight. We overcrowded the facility with students, used it for years for a purpose [for which] it was never intended (Mount Hebron originally was built to be a junior high), spending few dollars on its maintenance.

Before we spend $50 million on a renovation that touches minimal parts of the school, does not address its plumbing problems or the mold growing in classrooms, adds no new seats, does not meet current educational specifications and leaves the school still woefully lacking in its ability to meet current technology and no chance of the future possibilities, let's explore an alternative that has a shelf life long enough to warrant the expenditure.

The Howard County Board of Education should present the County Council and county executive with the real needs of our county schools, not what they think the county can afford. Choosing the least expensive alternative can prove to be the most expensive in the end.

I have faith that our County Council and county executive will recognize the importance of providing our students and teachers with a safe and healthy environment for the education of Mount Hebron students. That they will be willing to find a means to make a long-term commitment to the needs of Mount Hebron and not fund a Band-Aid approach.

In the words of Chicago Tribune columnist, Clarence Page, "If we want our kids to appreciate education, we grown-ups have to show some respect for it, too."

Cindy Ardinger Ellicott City

The writer is a parent of two children at Mount Hebron High School.

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