Hi – I took a tour of the Gates Middle School yesterday and I wanted to share my thoughts with all of you while it was still fresh. The others there were Jean Batty, her family is moving to Scituate and she has a son in a wheelchair, David Winters, a professional photographer, Sarah Shannon, the Principal of Gates, and John McCarthy, Scituate’s new Superintendent. Even though I had been given the tour before it was still depressing to see how bad it is. Jean brought a wheelchair and it really drove home how inaccessible the building is. Here are some of my thoughts and facts I learned today:
1. The ramps are not compliant – they are too steep. The one on the front of the building is horrible and it has to be used to access most of the building. This scenario is the reality every day – one has to go up one stair lift, out the front door and down the steep ramp, in another door and then down a different stair lift. Imagine snow and ice on the outdoor ramp.
2. Imagine you are a 7th grader needing to use a wheelchair and the stairs have to be cleared for you as they can not operate with others on the stairs – how humiliating.
3. It took 2 ½ minutes for the lift to go one flight of stairs. Imagine how long it takes to go from one class to another. This is all time taken away from learning. Keep in mind that we are not only talking about the disabled in wheelchairs that cannot navigate the Gates school but ANY child or teacher can have an accident that temporarily puts him or her in a wheelchair and then not able to receive the same education as everyone else.
4. None of the fire doors work properly.
5. The building cannot be locked down in the event of an emergency. It also means that anyone could enter the building unnoticed.
6. We saw a lot of water damage on the ceilings and walls.
7. The floors are all damaged – carpet torn, stained (so gross to think how often a child has gotten sick on those carpets) duck taped together – tile buckled from water damage – all over there are holes in the floors (easy for anyone to trip)
8. $150,000 per year is wasted just on heat – out the windows and sides of the building. 300 gallons of oil PER DAY. This is 4 times as much as any of the other school buildings.
9. The building layout – over 3 wings and 15 different stair exchanges – is very confusing and not at all conducive to the team learning that is the standard of education today. Not to mention the lack of technology able to be provided in this building with outlets from 1916.
If you want to see for yourself click on this link to the best of the pictures I took. http://s1245.photobucket.com/albums/gg600/FriendsofScituatesFuture/?albumview=slideshow&track=share_email_album_view_click
Here is a link to all of the pictures. http://www.flickr.com/photos/scituatesfuture/
David took a lot of video and we are currently looking for a great editor to create the 1 minute long YouTube videos for us. If you have this skill please let me know.
We continue to need of help in many areas. Please consider volunteering a little bit of your time now to see huge improvements in our town. Our next meeting will be on August 9th at 7pm. Place TBD. Please email Frank Judge at Frank.Judge@FMR.COM if you are able to go to the meeting.
Our committee’s goal is to improve the education able to be given at the middle school by allowing it to take place in a safe, accessible, healthy, and conducive to learning environment. We want to work with all of the citizens of Scituate to see this goal achieved as soon as possible.
Thank you for your help in understanding the issues, spreading the word of the need for a new school, taking the stand that we cannot wait any longer for an adequate school, and any other help you can provide.
Jen Morrison – Co-chair of Friends of Scituate’s Future