The Amity High School timeline continues to present
While I had hoped to have the answers to the questions submitted by the BEST (Better Environments for Students and Teachers) committee for this week's article, the answers still are not back. Following is a list of a few of the 20 questions submitted to the Board of Education, following the Public Hearing held this past May.
* To date several law suits dealing with the quality of the air have been filed by Amity staff with more to follow by staff and parents. How is the Board preparing to defend these suits and in the event that the suits are lost who will pay the judgments? Is the Board insured?
* Even though Quinnipiack Valley Health suggested that a procedure be established for logging illnesses related to the air quality at the High School, the Board of Education has implemented such a procedure only for staff, and not for students. Why?
* A February 2001 survey of Amity High School staff has revealed that 62 out of 110 staff members suffer from ailments related to the air quality in the High School. A May 2001 survey conducted at the Junior High in Bethany indicates that the number of staff members currently under medication due to the poor air quality in the building is 34 our of 68. These numbers are shocking. How does the Board of Education plan to deal with this ongoing crisis?
* The Amity budget was frozen by the Board in late September 2000. Subsequently, in order to conserve funds, purchases of all magnitudes ranging from light bulbs to classroom materials required extraordinary approval. Why was the budget frozen so early in the academic year? How was the money spent if not for the purpose for which it was budgeted?
It was decided by a unanimous Board of Education vote, that ousted attorney Carole Briggs, be paid the remaining $200,000 owed to her.
This decision was met with outrage from many community members.
On July 19th, I led a tour of 15 people, through what I had been told were "troubled" areas of the school. Prior to the tour, several employees had told me that the two-story stairwell, near the media center is often cleaned and painted.
This was very evident just by looking at the many different hues of white, painted on the concrete block walls. A horizontal crack along the right wall was oozing with a very dark-colored substance. Many irregularities and water stains were obvious. In fact, water stains, sagging tiles, rust stains and areas of powdery white patches on some ceiling tiles were observed by the group throughout the tour.
Water penetration was evident in areas throughout the school. The odor in the back gym was overwhelming, as were the water and rust stains along the walls and ceilings there. The auditorium, which has been a source of many complaints in the past, had it's own unique scent, in addition to the damp and deteriorating walls behind the cove base molding. We are eagerly awaiting the report from OSHA after testing surely had been completed there, along with other problematic areas in the school, during their visit back in May.
Details of OSHA's report, along with the long-awaited answers to our questions will hopefully be available for my summary for next week.
To close the timeline in July, I regret to report that after over 15 years as Outreach Counselor at Amity, Doreen Metzler has resigned. She notes in her resignation letter, that in the past three years, an increasing amount of time had been spent dealing with issues of health, her own and that of fellow co-workers and students She also states that 'frustration with the lack of communication and the neglect of defined procedures addressing air quality prompted my search for new employment'. Good-bye and the very best of everything to you, Doreen.
I'll leave you with one more question that our committee has asked of the Board.
* Given that the air quality in the Amity High School has adversely affected many students and staff, why move the 9th grade students to the High School and thus threaten the health of that many more students and staff? This move will subsequently further increase the likelihood of additional lawsuits.'
As always, for the sake of statistics and accuracy, please feel free to send information that might be useful, to me, in care of the Bulletin.
Editor's note: The opinions in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent those of the Bulletin.