Michelle and I are second grade teachers at South Elementary. We have participated in the Kinship Reading Buddy Program for the past twelve years. Every Tuesday twenty-two community members come to our classroom. They eat lunch and read with their reading buddy. It has been a very delightful and rewarding experience over the years for the mentors and students.
It has been very difficult to sustain this program since we were moved into the portable building. Our student population continues to grow and we have a big space issue. There is not enough room in these classrooms for extra activities. We have to house boots, snow pants and backpacks in our classrooms. Our lunchroom is overcrowded and seating our guests is difficult. Mentors need badges to enter the portable because the building is locked. Our mentors have been rained and snowed on transferring from the lunchroom to our classroom. This is a common occurrence for our students having to enter the main building for special services or a nurse visit. This is very unfortunate for our students.
A reading buddy recently made a comment to me. She said, “I wish every Princeton community member could see what it is REALLY like here. This portable is a waste of money. It is not safe in severe weather and I really don’t like kids walking outside during the school day. These kids need a new school.” I could not agree with her more.
Michelle and I work in a portable school that is not safe or secure. This is not acceptable. Did you know that the portable does not have heat in the hallways? Did you know that there is an opening in the fence near the high school? There are animals living under the portable and students are often distracted by the noises they make. The long winter made for slippery sidewalks and icy stairs that staff and students had to walk on during the day to transfer into the main building. Learning time was wasted having to put on winter coats to walk to lunch and specialist. Some classrooms have mold growing in the windowsills. The portable is not well insulated and the utility bills are out of this world. We cannot believe Princeton has spent over $1 million on rent on this structure we call “a school.” We thought teaching in the portable was only temporary. It has been 12 years!
We have an opportunity to get a new school and make things better for student learning. You have an opportunity to make a difference for kids. We hope you join us and say “Yes!” Let’s make a positive change in Princeton and improve our community. Let’s make a difference together. Our kids deserve it.