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History of Gates and some of the existing issues:
- The center historic part of the school was built in 1916. Additions were added on in 1929, 1952 and 1959.
- Gates is currently overcrowded (per state guidelines) and only houses 7th and 8th grades. By building a new middle school, enabling 6th grade to move where it belongs with 7th and 8th, it eliminates the overcrowding at the elementary schools. This also gives the 6th graders more opportunities like a foreign language that they are not able to get now.
- Safety is a huge concern in the building. There are not the proper fire doors that enable the school to be “locked down”. In the event of a fire kids can slip back in to the building. It also means that anyone could enter the building unnoticed.
- Air quality is also a huge concern. The water damage is evident to the naked eye. The failing HVAC systems result in extreme hot and extreme cold in classrooms (often all in the same day) and poor fresh air circulation causing considerably bad air quality – stagnant and stuffy air high in CO2.
- The size of the classrooms at Gates prohibits 21st Century teaching and learning. Most of the classrooms are too small to allow for group work, project-based learning and technology integration. In addition, they are severely limited in terms of technology. The ratio at Gates is 7 students to 1 computer, which is far below the state average.
- There are electrical concerns with only 1 or 2 outlets per room, which is very inadequate, and the network wiring that has been put in is all exposed. During my tour of the building a teacher showed me an outlet that she had to tape over to protect it from a water leak.
The building is not compliant with accessibility laws. The ramps are too steep. The one on the front of the building has to be used throughout the day to access different parts of the school. 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. Children needing to use the lift have to wait until the stairways are cleared of other children. That is humiliating.
- 2/3rds of the students responded to a survey last year that building concerns affect their learning. Imagine how distracting it is to be in class at 55 degrees the same day you are in another classroom at 80 degrees, or have a window crash into the room, or a ceiling tile fall in and water leak in, or just to have to move to another location because it is raining that day.
- $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 schools in our town. (please note that the town changed it from oil to gas and we will update this # once we get the current figures)
The original portion of Gates was built in 1916. It is 97 years old!
In order to put that in perspective, here are some events that also occurred in 1916:
– WWI was happening
– Woodrow Wilson was president
– Jackie Gleason, Walter Cronkite & Gregory Peck were born
– A gallon of gas was about $0.16
– A loaf of bread was about $0.05
– Cost of a first-class stamp was about $0.02