Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2017
No school board wants to hear that its District’s facilities suffer from potential dangers.
It’s something that makes you cringe just thinking about what could have happened, but at the same time, this news has saved many unforeseen accidents from occurring to staff and students.
Recently, the Pearl River County School District was given the terrible news as the result of a facility audit that some buildings are extremely unsafe.
Many of the safety issues, if not taken care of, could end badly. Although this is terrible news, it is not a reflection of the District’s leadership; it’s a reflection of where these 50 to 60-year-old facilities are in their lifespan and how flooding in the area has negatively impacted the foundations of the campuses.
The main purpose of the audit is to help the District prepare for the future. Unlike your lucky pair of jeans, your favorite pair of leather boots or a fancy glass of wine, buildings do not get better with age.
We are beginning to see the end of the life cycle in the school’s inaugural buildings, and though many are in dire need of renovations, other buildings are so old they meet the criteria to be listed on Mississippi’s historical archives list. This allows the school to keep the historical integrity of these one-of-a-kind buildings alive on the campus. Other buildings don’t have structural damage, but are too small to accommodate the rapid increase in enrollment.
The community needs to feel confident that when they send their kids to school, they won’t fall through the floor.
Safety is a top priority for any school district, but it always comes at a price. These buildings are over half a century old and need to be updated as soon as possible.
Last year, the District proposed a $17 million bond to fix these problems, but it was voted down.
I commend the District for going through the hardships to get this audit, because although the information they received shows how aged the facilities are, that information has already saved many people from suffering an accident. I can only hope the community understands the importance of education. Our future lies in the hands of those kids walking the halls of PRC, Picayune and Poplarville.