To the Gazette:
Even though all of the buildings in Augusta need attention, as teachers at Lincoln Elementary, we want to make the public aware of some of the reasons why replacing Lincoln will be in the best interest of our students. There are many arguments for and against the bond issue that have been discussed and debated across our community.
We have the unique perspective as teachers on the inside, parents of Augusta students, and taxpayers in our community. We want to share with the community the many reasons why Lincoln needs to be replaced.
Our building, while solidly built 53 years ago, is slowly deteriorating with many structural and drainage problems that make it cost prohibitive to repair, remodel, and build on to. These are not maintenance issues; many are due to structural problems.
Consider these facts:
Uneven floors and thresholds make it difficult for children with disabilities to travel throughout the building.
There is inadequate electricity to support technology and basic classroom needs.
Plumbing concerns include leaking pipes and backed up toilets.
Due to settling issues, walls are crumbling and doors have to be shaved down in order to open and close.
Water pools after rain at entrances and around the building leading to more foundation issues. Standing water also often prohibits our students from playing outside during recess time.
Hot water is not available for hand washing.
When this building was built, space was adequate. However, with the changing needs of our students and government requirements we desperately need more classrooms and space to meet the teaching requirements of the 21st century. Consider these facts:
With the addition of early childhood classes and all-day kindergarten we have two fewer classrooms available.
Paraprofessionals currently work with individual students and small groups in loud, unheated, and unairconditioned hallways (sometimes on the floor).
Therapists must currently work with a hearing impaired student and other special-needs students in the hallway because there is no space available for private therapy.
Our counselor and speech clinician must share office space to service students with confidential needs.
Our 4th grade classes are combining into one open classroom in the library area next year. There will be 40 students and 2 teachers in this open area. We do not have any classrooms available to accommodate the addition of the second section of 5th grade we need next year.
Our health room is the lobby of the office with no privacy, and the sick bed is in a hallway next to our copy machine.
Our teachers’ workroom is in a hallway.
Band instruction takes place on the gym stage during the lunch period while students are still eating.
The Special Education department will have to share a room with another class beginning next year because we do not have a separate space for them.
Another primary concern with Lincoln, and all the other schools in Augusta, is that in the event of high winds or a tornado our students will not be safe. There are not enough secure areas in our building away from glass windows and outside walls to keep our students safe. New and remodeled schools will provide safe rooms for our children and staff to be protected during severe weather. Is our community willing to put a price on our students’ lives?
It is very important to make an informed decision regarding this issue. We encourage the citizens of Augusta to consider all the facts and ask questions to become informed.
The decisions made today will impact the future of Augusta. Is the timing right? It has never been better.