BY O.J. EARLY
From cracks in floors to leaking roofs, several local officials witnessed the structural needs of four Greene County schools on Wednesday.
Some of the needs were more pressing -- handicapped students have no access to a restroom in Mosheim School's old gym -- while other infrastructure concerns have already been addressed by the County Board of Education.
"There are some improvements to still be made," said Assistant Director of Schools David McClain.
"I do have some concerns about infrastructure and plumbing in some of the older schools. Overall, I think the schools are in pretty decent shape."
Two members of the county's Long-Range Planning Committee, joined by several county education officials, visited the following schools in western Greene County on Wednesday: Mosheim Elementary/Middle School, West Greene High School, McDonald Elementary School and Glenwood Elementary School.
County Commissioners Ted Hensley, Robin Quillen and Wade McAmis were joined by Board of Education Chairman Nathan Brown and board members Rick Tipton and Kathy Austin, plus McClain and County Schools Maintenance Director David Myers.
Hensley and McAmis are members of the committee, which Hensley chairs.
"Education is changing every day," said McClain, who organized the day's event. "Our learning environment in schools has to change, too."
The committee plans to visit all Greene County schools by the end of the semester, he said.
MOSHEIM ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
At Mosheim, Principal Wendy Carpenter identified several structural needs, including a roof that has "major leaks" and cracks in sections of the floor.
"Our middle school is pretty new, but we have some major leaks," she said. Officials saw brown-stained sections of the ceiling in at least one classroom, a result of a leaking roof.
In addition, Carpenter said handicapped students have no access to a restroom in Mosheim School's old gym. Those students must go to another building, located directly across from the gym, for restroom use.
Mosheim has a new gym, constructed in 2003, but physical education classes are held daily in the old gym, Carpenter said.
WEST GREENE HIGH SCHOOL
West Greene High School could benefit from a drop-ceiling in much of the building, school counselor Richard Ripley said. The high school's principal and assistant principal were unable to attend the tour.
Myers said the kitchen area at the high school also needs major plumbing work. About 160-feet of rusted pipe was removed from part of the school late last year, McClain said.
Major construction was completed at West Greene in 2011 to make several additions.
Four new classrooms were built, the cafeteria was renovated, and the gymnasium was extended to include dressing rooms, two coaches' offices and a health-and-wellness classroom.
Plumbing is also a concern at McDonald, located near the county's western border, David Myers told the group.
School Principal LeAnn Myers gave officials a tour of the school, highlighting a few structural concerns.
One area of worry is school security, she said. Seventh-and-eighth-grade students, who are housed in a separate facility, must walk across a courtyard to enter the main building.
Some of her concerns, such as buzzers for the school's entrance, have already been addressed by the school board. The board, plus the county Budget and Finance Committee, recently approved money for the project.
McDonald currently has no buzzers at the school's entrance to control who may enter and exit.
The project awaits approval from the Greene County Commission.
GLENWOOD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
At Glenwood, Principal Gerald Miller said he felt good about the school's appearance and infrastructure.
"To me, the building is in very good shape," he said. "But we do have some work to do."
Miller said the middle of the gym's basketball court has got "some wear on it." He also said a new roof is needed for one of the cafeteria's walk-in coolers.
A new roof was approved by the board of education and the Budget and Finance Committee.
The Greene County Commission will address the issue at its next meeting next week, along with other capital projects from the school system.