Construction battle continues between parents, school district

By Dan Wells - bio | email
Posted by Trina Edwards - email

Both of the county's elementary schools are under construction, and the district says teachers are still teaching, and students are still learning, but parents say their kids shouldn't be hitting the books in the middle of a hazardous construction zone.

FOX19 has uncovered the state inspection reports done right before school started on Aug. 18. The reports show electrical problems, dust issues and plumbing problems, including murky water and toilets that don't work.

Parents, the Three Rivers District Health Department and the Pendleton County School District apparently have different ideas of what is safe to expose students to during construction at both Northern and Southern elementary schools.

"We've got very little ventilation, not enough electricity to run cooling units and then we have dust everywhere," said concerned parent Hope Cales. "We have several kids that have asthma and do have allergies and the dust is affecting them."

"I've got kids in kindergarten all the way to fifth grade, and if you just drive by during the day you can see kids playing where the construction is," said Eric Orme. "No, there is no safety there."

Dozens of parents met all weekend long at Veterans Park to talk about the problems. In two separate reviews by the health department, both schools were found to have exposed electrical wires that pose safety risks, and that several outlets just don't work, making portable air conditioning units unusable. Also, health inspectors say dust control plans do not appear to adequately control the dust inside the building.

With no carpet and missing ceiling tiles, dust is everywhere, causing potential issues for kids with breathing issues. Inspectors also noted "cloudy water" coming from the available fixtures.

There are also toilets and sinks at both schools that don't function.

Parents say its just too much.

"With the condition like this you can't have kids in there its time to do something and get the school under controls so our kids can learn," said Cales.

All along, superintendent Bob Yost has said the school district is doing it's best to keep students safe and healthy during the construction process.

According to the health department, the school district has until Wednesday to get both school sites up to code.

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