Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Trip to Guion Creek Elementary School

I went to Guion Creek Elementary School on Friday and was shown around the building by Principal Pam Conley, Pike Building administrator Mr. Rivas and two members of the maintenance staff.

To say I was surprised is to say the least. After hearing the horror stories, and one candidate after another claiming the building was on the verge of crumbling, I expected to find tremendous deterioration since I worked in the building in the middle to late 1990s. Instead I found a fundamentally-sound building which has some maintenance issues due chiefly to deliberate deferred maintenance by the administration.
I don't think there is any question that a new roof needs to be installed and should have been years ago when the roof first started leaking. The leaking water has ruined many of the ceiling tiles. Ceiling tiles are a cheap item to replace I know because we have had to replace those tiles at our law firm because of a leaky roof.

It is also clear from my trip to the building that a new heating and cooling system need to be installed. That's expensive, but nowhere near justifying a new building.

There were a few cracks in the floor and part of it slightly bowed in a spot, but that is to be expected in a building 39 years old. Same with the slight gap that has developed in one of the upper walls where people can (barely) look through a crack outside. These are maintenance issues that every homeowner deals with. My home is from 1969, two years before Guion was built. I have dealt with the same problems.

Most of the other things I saw were things that a good handyman could fix in a week or so of work. For example, the towel dispensers had come loose in one of the boy's bathrooms. In the hallway there was a water fountain where the long push button had fallen off, a plastic cover over a fire extinguisher was broken.

There were design flaws. Principal Conley certainly has a point that her conference room was far too small, and the kitchen and break areas for the teachers was cramped and well-designed. There definitely should be some remodeling to address that situation.

But a new building? Frankly, I was shocked. After hearing candidate after candidate tell horror stories of the building, I walked away from my visit wondering what all the fuss was about.

I'm not a building inspector though. That's exactly why I have clamored for an inspection of the building by a trained inspector and an estimate based on what needs to be fixed. I would point out though that the other candidates (with the exception of Ms. Maguire) felt they could render an opinion on the soundness of the building without an expert witness trained in that area.

Regardless, after my visit I am confident that fixing Guion Creek won't take anywhere near the $21.9 million estimate which continues to mysteriously rise. I wouldn't be surprised if the building could be fixed for a couple million or less.

After leaving the 39 year old Guion Creek schol, I drove to the University of Indianapolis where I teach. Walking into Good Hall, I asked a professor in my department when the building was built. She told me 1903, 107 years ago. Walking around the building, I saw that the building had been maintained and updated periodically, which is why the building is still in good shape today.


Had Enough Indy? said...

Glad to see you back online.

Good luck on Tuesday.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Of course, a building inspector should have been consulted before a referendum to rebuild was put on the ballot. Hopefully, the voters agree. May the best team for school boards win, everywhere in the county (especially in Pike, eh).

Marycatherine Barton said...

Jeff Davis has written that Oregon is reducing school to four days, due to its financial distress. The many indications of a depressed economy, country and world-wide, should cause us make do with the school buildings we have, take good care of them, and not go into debt to replace a fairly good one.

Sean Shepard said...

Mr. Rivas, who strikes me as being a fairly sharp guy at first impression, spent the day promoting yes votes on the referendum at Fishback Creek Public Academy (I presume he took the day off to do so).

I thought Washington Township had a school that they had recently closed or hadn't opened up?? I wonder about more creative or alternative kinds of arrangements - is there an empty building somewhere that can be rented for less than building a new one? Can existing structures be fixed up (as Paul points out here)? Can we start relying more on technology and different methods of learning to completely restructure the way we educate today?

Unknown said...

Thanks for visiting our school.I'm the teacher who invited you a few weeks ago.

I don't agree with your opinions as I left teaching after 16 years and sold new homes. They sure don't build them like they did fifty to hundred years ago; much like our schools. I live in a 1950's ranch right next to Butler University. My house is sound but I pay tons to maintain it. It's also just my dog and I doing the wear and tear...not 600 plus students.

I'm more concerned with GCES' infrastructure so that our students can compete globally with technology.

It's a dream and after taking a personal day from GCES to work the polls at New Augusta, I believe we have won our battle.

Hope all is well with you. I met you a few weeks ago at the Neighborhood Meeting at the Pike Assessor's office. Good luck to you and come volunteer to help our children when you get a chance. Oh, we'll be at Eastbrook next year while the new GCES is being constructed.

Brenda Boulais, Literacy Coach, GCES ;-)

Pike22 said...

I am so thankful that the voters in Pike township saw the truth even though you couldn't pull your head out long enough to see it. Guion Creek Elementary will be getting a new school built and you will not be on the board. Yesterday was a great day for Pike.