Dec 2, 2005 "So far they are keeping their word and things are getting done," Maria Ghirawoo, PTA president at Pearle B. Larsen School, said Friday.
On Wednesday at a PTA meeting at the school, parents threatened to keep their children home if the school was not repaired immediately.
School Principal Maria Encarnacion said that after the PTA meeting, which she attended, she had a meeting Thursday with members of the Department of Education maintenance staff and a contractor was called. She said the contractor was at the school on Friday making repairs.
At issue was what was referred to as the "school's state of general disrepair and neglect," and a two-page violation order from the St. Croix Fire Service, Arson Prevention and Investigation Unit. The Fire Service had given the school five days from its inspection on Nov. 28 to correct numerous code violations.
Encarnacion said the school staff was able to correct some of the violations. She said the school had entered into a contract to have fire extinguishers serviced each year, clearing up one violation.
She said the contracting crew was attending to items, such as fixing faulty electrical outlets and lighting fixtures.
She added that the school groundskeeper would be doing what he could. She said air conditioning ducts had to be cleaned.
However, the main problem at the school a leaky gym roof — will take longer to fix. Ghirawoo said.
"Fixing the roof has to be our focus now," she said.
Encarnacion said she had been assured by Education that some of the funds recently appropriated by the V.I. Legislature for schools would be used to fix the roof.
Sens. Ronald Russell and Juan Figueroa-Serville attended the PTA meeting on Wednesday. According to a press release from his office, Russell told the group about the importance of speaking out and publicly raising their concerns.
"I am very pleased with the attendance here today," Russell said at the meeting. "The fact that the contract between AFT and DOE is now being addressed is a very positive step. At this point, it is necessary to continue to work with the community to make sure that concerns are heard and acted upon in a timely manner. Our children's health and safety are at stake."
American Federation of Teacher's Building Representative Lariel Gerard called for the emergency meeting, which was consequently held Thursday.
"The community needs to come together and rectify the problems at Pearle B. Larsen School," Russell said. "I was pleased that the Commissioner of Education dispatched the Supervisor of Maintenance and another contractor on Thursday in response to the meeting at the school with parents and educators. I am very encouraged by this progress and look forward to continuing to work with members of the community in a cooperative and positive manner so that we can all allow the process to continue to resolve."
Figueroa-Serville said the community must become proactive and apply pressure to the leadership within the Department of Education and the Governor's Office.
"Senators do not have the authority to demand commissioners under the Executive Branch to implement and take action," Figueroa-Serville said.
He added, that he would "strongly urge the governor to do his job. Fix our schools."
Ghirawoo said she planned to visit the school on Friday evening to see what work had been done. She added that she would continually monitor the work for the association.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.