From textbooks to teachers, it seems as though every high school needs additions and improvements. Dusty chalkboards, dilapidated English books, and demolished desks are a common sight in most public high schools. Fortunately for PHS, there is both an abundance of teachers and plenty of school supplies.
Measure H1 was passed on Nov. 8, 2016, improving educational facilities throughout PUSD. This $66 million bond will provide modern classrooms for advanced courses, repair old windows and roofs, remove hazardous materials, and construct a three-story building for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math), according to the Neighbors Supporting Piedmont Schools website.
PUSD is consistently ranked the number one school district in Northern California, and yet, our facilities don’t match our test scores. As a student at PHS, I was delighted to hear about a possible change to our 40-year-old school, and encouraged my parents and neighbors to vote “yes” on H1. After the bond was passed, much to my dismay, I discovered that the bond money would be mainly focused on larger classrooms, creating “makerspaces” and a three-story STEAM building.
While encouraging more science, engineering, and art throughout schools is admirable, our school is still missing some key aspects that H1 is not covering.
Have you ever taken a walk and looked at the bathrooms at the school? The problem is obvious to any student or visitor. At PHS, there are seven bathrooms in total. Every passing period, there is a line out the door in the women’s bathrooms, due to the lack of stalls and of bathrooms themselves.
The amenities are disgusting and in poor condition. In the 20s building, the stalls are falling off the hinges, and half of the locks don’t even work. The tiles are moldy and unsanitary, and it looks as though they haven’t been cleaned, even though they have, since they were built 40 years ago. There is always a lack of paper towels and soap, along with feminine products in the women’s bathrooms. These are things that should always be supplied in a high school bathroom.
This is not a hard fix, and shouldn’t even be a problem. Every school year, stall doors should be fixed, and bathrooms should be maintained. A quick trip to Ace Hardware could solve most headaches that students face every day. There should be an expectation for keeping our current facilities at an acceptable standard before our district asks voters to approve a $66 million bond.
Additionally, many teachers share classrooms with other teachers and faculty. This can make it difficult for a student to track down a teacher when the teacher is constantly switching classrooms, and causes disorganization, stress, and tardiness. Instead of making classrooms bigger, H1 should be building more classrooms, especially for humanities classes. Teachers are the foundation of this school. By accommodating their needs, the school’s environment will thrive.
While advocating for STEAM in our schools and developing a more modern school is a positive approach, it’s key to look at the big picture. Our school’s bathrooms and classrooms are sub-standard, so why push for other unnecessary additions? Integrating STEAM into our schools is imperative, especially at a time when art and technology are being cut from district funds nationwide. Above all, there are paramount needs for PHS students and faculty, and PUSD has clearly demonstrated that there is enough money to go around. Let’s prioritize, and give students what they actually need.