School fixing problems after mom's letter


Published: Saturday, January 11, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 10, 2003 at 11:18 p.m.
On Friday, the 30 students who attend classes in Building 18 at Howard Bishop Middle School got the attention of Alachua County School Board officials.
In a letter sent to Schools Superintendent Mary Chambers on Thursday, the parent of a disabled student who attends classes in the physically impaired unit at the school requested that a leaky toilet and moldy ceiling tiles be fixed and replaced.
"I have always found that the needs of the handicapped are a lower priority than mainstream and gifted agendas," wrote Delia Quested, who has a daughter who attends class in the physically impaired unit and one who attends gifted classes at Bishop.
"The thing that drove me to send it out is there," she said, "are health issues going on in a handicapped facility and they just need to take care of it."
By Friday afternoon, maintenance staff at the school had fixed the leaking toilet and replaced a moldy ceiling tile. In that same classroom, however, most of the ceiling tiles are stained a rust color, and several tiles still have mold on them.
"For the last couple of years, we've had a leaky roof but they came and fixed it," said Leanna Smith, who has taught students in the physically impaired unit for seven years. "The only health hazard I am concerned about is the mold on the ceiling."
Bishop Principal Jeff Charbonnet said his school's maintenance staff addresses concerns as they arise, but he was not aware of the problems brought up by Quested.
"We are responsive to concerns and we have a system in place to deal with facilities needs when they come up," Charbonnet said. "Plumbing issues and leaky roofs are going to happen in a building that's 20 years old. It was all kind of new to me."
Charbonnet said a work order is now in to deal with the toilet.
"We will work with the school to make sure that classroom is functioning and meeting their needs," said Ed Gable, director of planning and construction for the district. "If we've overlooked something or it has broken since last week, we will take care of it immediately."
Meanwhile, Chambers acknowledged overcrowding concerns among the physically impaired students at Bishop and said those will likely be alleviated when a similar unit is opened at Kanapaha Middle School in the next few years.

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