Friday, September 11, 2009

Cozy or Crowded at NHS?

In a recent Courier Times feature, two Neshaminy students lamented over what they believe is overcrowding at the high school. Here are a few excerpts:

"it’s not exactly a comfortable living environment"
"Having extensive construction plans in progress for what seems to be forever, or at least since the rejection of a proposed new school (thanks, grandma and gramps!)"
"In place of enjoying the year with our tight-knit friends and big plans, we’re being forced into insanely small quarters"
"Neshaminy [high school] is clearly too small for us to be here"

You can read the entire feature article by clicking here.

There's no question that things are a little more crowded at NHS than we'd prefer (just as Maple Point was last year), and I hope that the congestion will ease a bit when the students become more familiar with the new layout of the building. My high schooler has told me that the congestion in the hallways is still not good but it is getting a little better, and I've heard similar reports from others.

This is a difficult transition year for the high school considering the final stages of the reconstruction project, the new hallway traffic patterns, incorporation of 9th grade, addition of the Learning Center students. For what it's worth, I truly appreciate the patience and commitment of our students, faculty and administration during this time.


Pianomom said...

The halls are crowded, the buses are crowded. What a great way to treat the students who have endured construction for the past few years.

KClarinet said...

"There's no question that things are a little more crowded at NHS than we'd prefer (just as Maple Point was last year)"

The congestion at Maple Point was known to be temporary (at least so long as we still have 3 middle schools). The crowded conditions at the high school will continue indefinitely, especially as tuition levels rise in the nearby Parochial schools.

"and I hope that the congestion will ease a bit when the students become more familiar with the new layout of the building."

This won't reduce the congestion, although some of the discomfort may be reduced as students and teachers learn their way around.

Of course, the building was completed on time (it is finished, isn't it?) and on budget (apparently by using Neshaminy maintenance workers, preventing them from doing their own jobs, either to supplement or replace the contracted construction companies' workers). And classrooms like the art/music computer lab were not, as of the week before Labor Day, ready for classes (the lab still had only one electric outlet eight feet above the floor - unlikely to be adequate to power 20+ computers and related peripherals).

The building may one day turn out to be adequate to the district's needs.

JS said...

I still would like to know how much was cut to make this project "on time" and "on budget" (would love to see proof of the "on budget" part).

I have voiced my concerns to Mr. O'Connor in the past, but I really believe this project was botched and is being covered for by those people that approved it (cetain Board members) and by those who were put in charge of implementing it (district administrators). I really believe there was no real quality control because the only factors to take in were "will section x be ready at date y" and "will total budget remain under x dollars". That was what all in the know were concerned with, not was the district getting what they expected, and were any changes made going to satisfy the needs of the students down the road?

There are cracks in the floor tiles showing the foundation is already settling (bodes well for the future doesn't it). Every time it rains sections of the brand new stairwell by the cafeteria flood (from the ground up). Certain items have been "broken" since parts of the building were turned over, but since only now are they going over the "punch list" (some 3 years later in some areas) it is now the district's responsibility to fix. That's because basic warranties on certain items are only 1 year long.

How much did all the extra keyboard trays that kept falling out so the school just removed and threw them out cost?

With not enough water pressure (Mr. Minotti himself didn't think we needed as much volume as the old builidng) bathrooms repeatedly back up in sections of the building?

Most people still aren't sure if the fire alarm really is working or not? The PA system surely isn't for some rooms.

Really looks like we got a great deal. As the students said "thanks grandma and grandpa" (as well as Mr. Linder and his crew).

neshaminy4ever said...

The people who deceived this districts voters into believing in a renovation will never admit to this huge mistake. If the floor at the bottom of the stairs floods out enough, they will just leave the water there and say it's a nature preserve. The floor isn't flooded, it's evaporationally challenged.

march said...

My question is where are all these people who know of the problems with the high school at during school board meetings? All you hear of is that we are on time and on budget. No one comes to voice their observations of the conditions of the high school. Until that is done the public will believe that they got a great deal.

JS said...

March, most of the people that deal with these issues on a daily basis are currently waiting to hear if they will have their jobs or not. Not really a good time to whistle blow.

Some of the visual things (floor cracking) are easy to see if you just look if you are ever there.

IrishFarm said...

I have heard similar reports from various students - hallway congestion is still a problem but it's better now than it was day 1, there is flooding by the stairway and cafeteria. I asked my child about the crack in the floor and they said how can I possibly even see the floor when I'm shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of students cramming through the halls? I don't even have enough room to turn my head down to see my feet!

News Flash said...

The truth is JS that none of them will ever blow the whistle, will they? The nonsense up at the high school and throughout the district has been going on for years but nobody speaks up ever. I'm not even sure I can blame them since half the board (at least) would rather cover up our problems than be open about it.

KClarinet said...

It isn't as if the board members are unable to go and look for themselves. They don't, or shouldn't, need a line of people at the public meetings to "blow the whistle" on problems like these that are already being talked about.

What is needed is not repeated recitation of the problems at meetings. What is needed is for the board members who don't sense a vested interest in defending the original decision (to renovate) to look for themselves - preferably without an administrator guiding them - and ask pointed questions of everyone involved - cabinet administrators, building administrators (past and present). teachers, support staff and students. I know, it would take time. Employees who would not risk being seen as insubordinate (especially given the current labor problem) by seeking out board members or speaking at meetings would more than likely answer direct questions, possibly with more information than the board will have bargained for.

As always, it is the people on the ground who have the most detailed handle on the problems, not officials whose offices are miles away and whose attitudes are bound to be defensive. And it tends to be those very people on the ground whose input is rarely sought because of a fear that their answers will be self-serving and "whiny."

JS said...

Again, many fear for their jobs. They don't have tenure like the teachers.

It's not just certain Board Members who might want to cover problems up. The upper level administrators don't want to point out problems either because they are either at fault (through inaction or no oversight) or will be required to fix the problem.

The thing is the Board may run into a major problem if they outsource the support staff. Many of those standing to lose their jobs are those with first hand knowledge of the issues the entire district has (just not the High School). It will be interesting to see how many of those (who wouldn't have a job to jeapordize) would decide to speak up then.

Irish, Back to School night is coming up, take some time to actually look how well constructed the High School ended up.

IrishFarm said...

And by what measure should I judge the high school by? Compared to what it used to be I'm sure it will be a vast improvement. Compared to what we could have had for just a couple million more, it's disappointing.

Str8 Shutr said...

How about is it worth $80 million period? When you hear about cracks in floors and flooding in new parts of a building that's barely been used yet, that isn't good.

Whenever the engineer comes to meetings I always hear Spitz ask some questions. At the last meeting I heard O'Connor ask the guy about the rumored selling back of warranties, and also about fire safety things. Aside from that nobody on the board asks any questions. Why aren't the others at least asking questions? Maybe they just want this to be over and done with.

I have an even more perplexing question. Why do we keep re electing the politicians who stopped the new building (which was approved by a former board) in the first place? How many more critical errors in judgement must those people make before voters smarten up around here. Stop voting for your party and start paying attention people!

JS said...

You should compare it to what you think a new building should look like. Should floors be cracking already? Should the ceiling be leaking in spots every time it rains? Should adjoining walls from one hallway to the next not match up? Soap dispensers put in next to the sinks with soap reservoirs built in because the built in ones are too rusty to use?


KClarinet said...

Unfortunately, relatively few who are eligible seem to be voting at all, especially in primary elections, which is when, as I remember, the referendum about the new high school appeared on the ballot.

And it seems clear that many who do vote are voting not for their party but for their pocketbooks.