Need for new school facility is urgent

To the editor:

It is clear that Marshall needs a new elementary school. West Side was built in 1955. It has developed a lot of problems and no longer meets today’s educational needs.

From my own personal experiences and the tour I received at the meeting on April 29, let me highlight just a few of these problems:

• Only one set of bathrooms are handicapped-accessible and must be closed when wheelchair-bound students need to use them. This means all other students have to go upstairs to use the bathroom, which is highly inconvenient for them and embarrassing for disabled students.

• It is usually the case that one (or more) of the sinks in the student bathrooms do not work, or if they do, rust-colored water comes out.

• When visiting with the school secretary and a school counselor in their offices this winter, I kept hearing loud, clanking sounds. When I asked what these noises were, I was told that this was the heating system, this was normal, and you just “get used to it.” I found it disruptive and annoying, and I bet the students do, too.

• Due to increased enrollment, they are simply running out of room. Instruction is now taking place in the hallways. Multiple special education and ELL classes are being conducted in the same classroom, a situation that is not conducive for the intense instruction these types of classes need. To create more classroom space, the library had to be moved into a smaller room, one that is too small to even house all the books in the collection. Books are stacked in piles on the floor and there is almost no room for students to study in the library.

Growth is a good problem to have. The quality of our buildings does affect our children’s education. Families are attracted to Marshall–or come back home to Marshall to raise their families–when we can provide quality education in safe, modern facilities.

The cost to fix West Side is prohibitive and the need for a new facility is urgent. Join me and so many others in voting yes on May 14.

Anita Gaul