OP-ED: Crippling Condition of the Building

Lila Caminiti, Junior, Clubs Editor

The Pelham Union Free School District is among the best in the state when it comes to academics. The district faces no shortage of accolades and accomplishments, consistently placing highly among New York’s best public districts. However, PMHS falls short in one area – facilities. Despite being located in a wealthy community that receives sufficient funds in tax money, PMHS is nearly 100 years old, and is actively decaying every day. Aside from the building’s worsening physical conditions, the school faces problems with heating, as halls and classrooms remain unheated deep into the winter season, and air conditioning is nowhere to be found during the warmer months. These conditions make for an uncomfortable school environment, stifling the development of students in and out of the classroom.

No Pelham student or faculty member can deny ow much our facilities are deteriorating. Throughout the building, one can find chipping paint, water damage, and broken tiles. This is to be expected given the amount of use our school has, but in a town with seemingly adequate funds, why isn’t there more money to update facilities? Recently, grants were provided by the Pelham Education Foundation to help fund makerspaces in all six schools. While maker spaces are a great way to foster creativity, and will without a doubt be positive additions to each school, should they really be at the top of the Pelham Education Foundation’s priority list?

The problems with heating seem to be unending here at PMHS. During the warmer months, almost every classroom in the school is uncomfortably warm. While the school has gradually added air conditioning to select classrooms in recent years, the process is extremely slow. The school’s age also poses problems, as it’s difficult to add air conditioning to such an old building. This also causes the school to be extremely drafty, making some classrooms and hallways extremely cold during the winter. In fact, some classrooms in the school are so cold that students wear winter coats inside. In such a wealthy district, it’s surprising and unfair that students have to work in such uncomfortable conditions.

Experts have proven that a comfortable working environment is a vital part of a student’s learning experience. Carol Burris, the director of the Network for Public Education, said in an article for The Atlantic, “Students and teachers need clean, roomy, well-ventilated, and well-lit spaces for teaching and learning… there should be sufficient heat in classrooms when it’s cold, but there should not be overheating.”

Although the condition of the school may be infuriating at times, it’s important that students understand the difficulties of running such a large building, especially in the grand scheme of things. The high school is only one piece of the district, and other schools need work done as well. For instance, Hutchinson School is currently being rebuilt.

The process to implement changes to facilities in the Pelham School District is a lengthy one, starting with the granting of a bond. According to Pelham facilities director Mr. Condon, the school had a bond referendum to rebuild a new school on Hutchinson School property, which also included funds to help improve upon the high school, Prospect Hill School, and fields around Pelham. However, the district is now in the process of choosing a contractor for these projects, a long-winded procedure that has left students wondering whether or not change will ever come. Perhaps the issue isn’t that the district does not see the problem with facilities, but the lack of urgency in their reaction to this realization.

When weighing the good and bad of the Pelham High School experience, the good certainly outweighs the bad. After all, it matters more what you learn, not where you are when learning it. That being said, an update to the general facilities of PMHS would benefit the student body, faculty and staff greatly, both in and out of the classroom.