March 18, 2005 Sen. Liston Davis, chairman of the Senate Education, Youth and Culture Committee, visited the Joseph Gomez Elementary School Friday as part of his plans to tour all the territory's public schools and see the problems faced by faculty, staff and students.
In a release issued Friday from his office, Davis said he saw poor plumbing, an inadequate electrical system and a neglected kitchen facility.
Last year, the school received media attention because of its frequent closure due to an aging sewer system near the school that leaked raw sewage onto the school grounds creating health hazards for the faculty, staff and students. (See "School Reopens, But Smell Lingers").
The Public Works Department replaced some of the sewer pipes, but Davis reported finding a myriad of other problems still plaguing the school.
According to the release, Gomez Principal Freida Farrow told Davis that the most pressing issue was the school's aging plumbing system. Farrow showed Davis the worn pipes in the school's bathrooms and the leaky, and in some cases, nonfunctioning water coolers.
The school's electrical system is also in need of upgrading. Farrow said the current system does not have the power to operate all the computers, air conditioning units and other technological equipment the school has acquired. Farrow said she had contacted the Education Department's Maintenance Division to assist in proper lighting for the school since December of 2004 but has not received a response.
Besides the plumbing and electrical woes, the school has several problems with its cafeteria whose staff is charged with providing, not only the Gomez students with lunch, but also the students of the Edith Williams, Faith of Life and Tutu Church of God schools a total of approximately 650 700 students daily.
The kitchen has a leaky roof plus damaged and nonfunctioning equipment. The staff is forced to work in the hot kitchen because of a lack of blowers to pull the hot air out of it.
"There is no excuse for equipment in need of repair to be sitting for years," Davis said, "It gives the impression that the hardworking employees at the school are doing something wrong."
Other problems cited by Farrow included: the lack of adequate facilities for the nurses; the lack of perimeter fencing along the western side of the campus; and the absence of a retaining wall to reduce flooding and mud slides onto the campus.
Davis did not give any indication in his release when these issues would be addressed.
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