Education

Rock Hill schools seek bond to repair roofs, upgrade restrooms

This is one of the older bathrooms at Sullivan Middle School.
This is one of the older bathrooms at Sullivan Middle School. aburriss@heraldonline.com

Like an old home, Sullivan Middle School in Rock Hill is long overdue for upgrades, its occupants say.

Many of the windows have a cloudy film that’s impossible to clean. The windows seals have cracked and the film is trapped between two panes of glass.

While kitchen appliances used for instruction have been replaced, the layout is not as functional as administrators want. The roof needs work.

Some of the bathrooms date back to when the building opened in 1959 as Rock Hill High School. Repairing them is costly and difficult, say maintenance workers.

This could change after Tuesday if Rock Hill voters approve borrowing $110 million over five years to make a variety of improvements to district schools. The school board says it can borrow the money through a bond issue without increasing taxes. That’s because some current debt will be paid off as the new debt is added.

As planned, every district school would benefit from the projects.

About $13.3 million or 12 percent of the money would go to building repairs or improvements. Sullivan Middle School would have large sections of its roof replaced and its bathrooms upgraded. Thirteen other schools are slated for roof improvements and 11 would get bathroom upgrades.

“Parents send their kids here and we are trusted to take care of them,” said Sullivan Middle principal Shane Goodwin. “The least we can is to have a first-class facility.”

Maintaining Sullivan Middle School has been a challenge for years. But recently, the school’s maintenance staff has found that repairs are seldom routine.

“If a simple repair needs to be made, it can be a major event,” said Danny Kelly of the maintenance staff. “You have to cut into the floor, knock out the walls. The cost of the repair can triple.”

Usually, when something breaks, it is repaired and not replaced, Goodwin said. With a replacement, the problem is resolved for years, but a repair “can be back again and again,” he said.

While the maintenance and clean-up crews maintain the bathrooms daily, staffers are battling more than 55 years of water and urine that has seeped into the floor tiles, resulting in a faint, but persistent, odor.

Some of the bathrooms already have been updated with an epoxy floor that does not absorb liquids. The plan calls for all of the bathrooms to have that flooring.

Replacing windows is critical at Sullivan Middle because of its design. Unlike most other schools that have classrooms on both sides of a hallway, Sullivan Middle has classrooms on one side only. The other side is mainly lined with large windows.

Windows with newer seals would better control climate in the hallways, said Dwayne Gaston of the school’s maintenance staff.

Each classroom has its own heating and cooling unit. All of the inside units are hidden inside book cabinets that were designed by school maintenance workers. The inside units are quiet and are controlled by the teachers.

During school hours, classroom doors are closed for security reasons, which means warm air in the winter and cooled air in the summer does not reach the hallways.

“There is a big climate difference,” Gaston said.

The cloudy windows are also a security concern because they are difficult to see through, Goodwin said.

The kitchen upgrades are in what most people would call the “home economics” classroom. It’s now the “family consumer” classroom where boys and girls learn life skills such as cooking and sewing.

Goodwin’s hope is that upgrades to those classrooms will change the way instruction is offered, making it more participatory and having students teach each other. He wants to add multimedia to the classrooms so he can film events such as a cooking show.

The goal is have a school where everything works, looks nice and is not distracting, Goodwin said. The changes would create a sense of pride for students and more comfortable classrooms.

The proposed bond also would pay for replacing band uniforms at South Pointe High School and musical instruments districtwide.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

Repairs and replacements

The $110 million for Rock Hill schools includes about $13.3 million for repairs and replacements. Of that:

▪ $4.9 million would pay for replacing the roofs at the Applied Technology Center, the Child Development Center, Ebenezer Elementary, Ebinport Elementary, the Flexible Learning Center, Oakdale Elementary, Richmond Drive Elementary, Saluda Trail Elementary, Sullivan Middle School, Rosewood Elementary, Rawlinson Road Middle School, Belleview Elementary, and Sunset Park elementary.

▪ $2.5 million for bathroom renovations at the Applied Technology Center, Ebenezer Elementary, Independence Elementary, Saluda Trail Elementary, York Road Elementary, Rawlinson Road Middle School, Belleview Elementary, Lesslie Elementary, Northside Elementary, and Finley Road Elementary.

▪ $5.9 million for new classroom furnishings at several schools, replacing heating and air conditioning at several schools, brick veneer repairs at Northwestern and Rock Hill high schools, operational systems and custodial equipment.

Public Meeting

A public meeting on the bond referendum will be held at Rock Hill City Hall Thursday at 7 p.m.

How to vote

All Rock Hill school district precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Absentee votes are now being accepted by the York County voter registration and elections office. Absentee voting by mail ends May 1. In-person absentee voting is open through May 4 at the board’s office, 13 S. Congress St, York. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Information

For more info on the master plan and bond referendum go to: http://www.rock-hill.k12.sc.us/community/2015schoolbondreferendum.aspx

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