Teachers and instructors gave parents and residents a first-hand look at how the conditions at are impacting their ability to teach and work with students. Patch, along with about 200 residents, toured the school after a on the Monday night.
During the tour, teacher Janet Fraulo explained to each group that her science classroom becomes "more, more crammed" each year. She discussed how the number of students in the classroom can create safety issues.
The science curriculum is moving away from lectures and toward more hands on activities, Fraulo said.
"You learn by you doing," she said.
Some of the structures in the room hinder her ability to teach in that style. For example, the SMART Board is at the front of the room, but a table and sink cut off the teacher from the students.
Teacher Kathleen Kennedy worries each year if there will be enough class periods and lab space to offer students what they need for more rigorous and required science requirements.
“We do not have enough science classrooms to meet increased graduation requirements," she said. Kennedy added the classrooms require new equipment and technology.
"The high school facilities have negatively impact students learning," she said.
Assistant Principal Edward T. Malizia discussed how the scheduling of lunch periods affects each student differently and can cause them to miss out of some of the classes they want.
Currently, there are four lunch periods with between 98 to 225 students in each one, Malizia said. The school has attempted to have a lunch period with almost 250 students, however the lines could not accommodate that many.
"It's a little tight," Malizia said. The cafeteria can hold up to 305 students, he added.
Malizia is worried that if the number of students in the school rises by 20 to 30 children, he will have a difficult time accommodating them during their lunch period.
Marching band director and music teacher Jim Shuman told the tour groups that the layout especially the location of the stairs has lead to four students falling over the past two years.
"We are waiting for an accident to happen," he said. However, he added no one has been seriously injured in the falls.
The layout of the room prevents small group instruction, crams larger instruments next to each, eliminates storage space and makes it not handicap accessible. Most of the band's equipment is housed in trailers outside of the school.
Football Locker Room/Gym
An outside storage closet has been turned into the football locker room, but it is not conducive for 70 to 80 players to change in it, according to coach Dave Coyne.
"We've outgrown the building. We are just busting at the seams," he said. Players often spill out into the hallway, he added.
Coyne explained that many schools have two gymnasiums or at least an auxiliary one. The limited gym space forces sports teams to have practice at off hours, he added.
The staff also has limited space in which to store mats, football equipment and other items needed for physical education classes and sports teams, Coyne said.
After viewing the football locker room and hearing what the problems with having only one gymnasium, a parent said, "it is just getting worse" when referring to the school conditions. Another parent said, "I didn't realize how bad it was."
The use of the Media Center as classroom was one of the concerns in the because space limitations negatively impacted both curriculum delivery and library programs.
"There is insufficient space and mismatched furniture in the Media Center," said principal Mario J. Almeida.
The space constraints make it difficult for teachers to find an area to work in, according to school librarian Raisa Bublick.
Parent Salvatore Indomenico felt the school badly needs a renovation.
"To say the least, it is disturbing," he said after learning of the conditions in the Media Center and the school in general.
Physical education teacher Dave Dubos explained how the walls of the weight room were recently painted, the floor was rubberized and the celling that was leaking was fixed. Some of the equipment was also refurnished.
"It was in dire straits," he said about the weight room before the renovation.
Two treadmills were purchased and placed in the room this summer, but Dubos would like more cardio equipment to be purchased. He added many of the weights are rusty and should be replaced with rubber ones.
English Teacher Dave Fortier discussed how having only one computer lab in the school creates problems with scheduling for teachers and makes technology only an incidental part of learning.
"To say we have technology in the schools because we have one computer lab is silly," Fortier said. He added that there should be computers in every classroom.
With only one computer lab, Fortier said teachers couldn’t make technology the central part of the curriculum, which he felt it should be.
Teachers try to get their students in the computer lab as much as possible without abusing the privilege.
"We are trying to cut corners," Fortier said.
He said that students need to have access to computers in school and explained that people in general become more creative when they are not focusing on learning the basics.
At the end of the tour, parent Karen Scandura said she was "overwhelmed" by the facility needs at the school.
"I did not expect it to be in the condition it was," said the parent of an eighth grade student.