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It's time to retire this relic of a building
Sue Gill's op-ed column on rebuilding Stafford High School.

 A new Stafford High School would address issues of overcrowding, outdated facilities, and fire code issues.
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 1/20/2013

IT'S INTERESTING how Ruth Olsen in her letter to The Free Lance-Star can know about fixing Stafford High School without having ever been in the building ["New is not necessarily better: Fix SHS," Dec. 2]. I've been working in that building from the day it opened in 1975.

The building is not like any other school in the area. We have moveable metal partitions to allow reconfigurations to meet evolving needs. Originally, there were not even four walls to a classroom, but three, open to the hallway. Metal walls amplify sounds, and my students can hear the movie in a neighboring classroom almost better than those students can hear it.

When we finally got four walls, the doors were left out. That's right: no doors! It was quickly realized that this wouldn't work. They added the walls and the doors within the first five years of the building. I remember an assistant superintendent stating that all the classrooms had doors until she came to the school and saw for herself that many rooms were without doors.

The classrooms were built to accommodate many class sizes. This year a class of 38 students could not use the German-language classroom as it has an occupancy of only 36. The fire marshal has inspected our building and held us to the same standard as a newer building, and he should. No one wants students or staff endangered by failing to follow code, but it comes at a cost.

Millions of dollars were spent in renovation, and the staff was so excited. But this made the building worse. It added new space for the guidance department and built more classrooms, but the rest of the building had electrical outlets lost power even though they had worked before. There were never many outlets in a room, but then to have one not work? Extension cords are prohibited, according to fire code, and Internet connections that had been added to the building were cut and made useless.

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