Originally published on KensingtonBK, January 16, 2014.
How long should it take for leaks in a school — that are causing peeling paint, exposed bricks, and slippery surfaces — to be repaired? PS 130, The Parkside School, is hoping it won’t take long, but at the same time, students, parents, and faculty are asking the Department of Education and the surrounding community for help to move the process along.
The school, which is located at 70 Ocean Parkway and was built in the 1930s, currently has weather-related water leaks, and the seeping water has damaged some interior rooms — predominantly in spaces on the 4th and 5th floors on the northeastern side of the building. Christine Farrell, president of PS 130 PTA, explains that the exterior bricks need to be repointed, and that at least one classroom has exposed brick and mortar after they’ve done the little they can to remediate some damage from the leaks.
“We have not had a mold problem to date, but we have had to remove damaged plaster to try and avoid it,” she explains, noting that there are other problems as well. “Of course, during periods of heavy rain or rapid snow melt, water leaks and pools, presenting possible slip and fall hazards.”
The school is in the process of requesting funding for repairs from the District 15 Community Education Council for capital improvements — they’re not part of the School Construction Authority’s current five-year plan for District 15, and they’re not on the next one, either, which was proposed in November 2013 and covers fiscal years 2015-2019.
“We have asked the CEC to consider recommending us, but they can recommend only five projects each cycle,” says Christine. “PS 130′s annual building audit in December made note of the conditions when submitted to the SCA, but it is an open question whether PS 130 meets the priority qualifications to be treated as a situation in immediate need of remediation or if we even qualify to be included in the next five-year capital plan.”
We reached out to the Department of Education to see what possibilities there are for getting these needed repairs done, but they were unable to provide details about the process or their plans.
“We’ve initiated a project to investigate,” Marge Feinberg, spokesperson for the DOE, tells us. “We cannot elaborate until we look into the matter further.”
Parents have heard from CEC board members, who have suggested petitions, parent engagement, and community voices and actions can not just raise awareness and support, but can be effective leverage points. So they’ve created an online petition that has a pretty straightforward plea: “PS 130 needs remediation now!”
“If you see the leaks in classrooms it’s pretty sad — peeling paint, exposed brick,” PS 130 parent Meema Spadola tells us. “It’s hard to believe that we have to go begging to get the bare minimum for our kids: a dry, safe building.”
The school will also reach out to Councilmember Brad Lander, whose office tells us it will try to advise them.
In the course of our conversations, we learned that PS 130 principal Maria Nunziata has since heard from the DOE, who told her that the SCA has determined that the situation needs to go to “the next level,” but there’s no word on how soon that will happen.
If you’d like to help add your voice to the support of the school, you can sign the petition here.