Letter | Frustrated, please vote yes to build new schools
February 23, 2012 · 11:19 AM
We need to build new schools. How do I know? I volunteer at Lakeridge Elementary almost every day. The building is simply too small. The common areas are overcrowded and overbooked. Enrollment is increasing, yet kids are already spilling out of the school. Adding more portables won’t solve the issue. Here are some examples of overcrowding that I witness while volunteering:
No gym in the gymnasium. There is only one large common area: the gymnasium/cafeteria/theater. Because of the increased number of kids and limited space, Lakeridge has three separate lunch periods. The first lunch period starts at 11:10 a.m. and the last lunch period ends at 1:30 p.m. This leaves very little time for P.E. and theater use. Sometimes the gym needs to be used during non-lunch hours for schoolwide projects, and P.E. is forced to occur outside in the cold and rain.
Theater practice in the halls. Every year there are school productions and award ceremonies. They are great shows, but did you know the kids are practicing in the halls outside their classrooms? This may not seem so bad to you, but when pianos are banging and kids are singing immediately outside a classroom, it is extremely noisy and distracting. All other “book-in-a-bag” and specialist help conducted in the halls must either move or be cancelled.
Library in the classroom. There are times when, because of lack of space, the library has to be used as a meeting space. The librarian selects some books, puts them on a cart and holds library class in individual classrooms. The kids pick a book out of 20-40 options, instead of hundreds. Kids often pick a book they don’t like (and presumably won’t read). Yes, we have a library — wouldn’t it be great if we could always use it?
Portables still congest common areas. Portables don’t have halls. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. There is an incredible amount of work done in the halls of the main building (specialist help, book-in-a-bag, storage, displays, volunteer prep, event practice). We need common areas and more break-out space, not just classroom space.
Bathrooms. Portables don’t always have bathrooms, and the main building bathrooms can’t always accommodate the number of kids. Let’s just say embarrassing accidents happen while kids are waiting, that shouldn’t.
Our principal must spend too much time on logistics. Mr. Rundle works tirelessly for our school. He is there, it appears to me, more than 12 hours per day. It is frustrating to see him spend his valuable time searching for space (e.g. how to provide a fifth grade advanced math class without a classroom, how to create a reading room, etc.). Time spent on logistics is time not spent on staff development and improving our children’s education.
I ask you: Why did you move to Mercer Island? If you said “for the schools,” please vote “yes” and champion the cause. Our kids and school staff need your help.