Monday, May 15, 2006

Alton HeadStart Update

As reported this morning, the Alton HeadStart was damaged after severe thunderstorms last night. The sheet metal on the older part of the building was sheered off due to high winds. After initial inspections, it appears that three of the classrooms received most of the damage from the storm. Damage to other parts of the building are still unknown. Rain water formed bulges in the sheetrock. Maintenance crews had to poke holes in the ceiling paint to allow the water to trickle down. Inside the classrooms, most of the contents got wet. Crews took out the rugs and furniture from the rooms after insurance adjusters inspected the damage. As in most cases where there is moisture introduced into the interior of a building, mold will be something to prevent while making repairs.In the meantime, with the possibility of more rain tonight, repair crews have covered the damage with a plastic sheet and will resume repairs in the morning. There is no verification yet, but it is initially reported that the contractor who installed the roof did not use the customary screws used to secure metal roofs, choosing staples instead. Confirmation of this report is still pending.
There are questions about what to do with the staff at the Alton Headstart. Due to the unexpected event, graduation of the pre-schoolers is on hold and possibly canceled. Officials do not foresee that the school will reopen any time soon. Teachers were counting on the two weeks before end of school to catch up on end of year reports. With the empty classrooms, the teachers will have time to finish their paperwork. The question then is, what to do with the staff for the remainder of the time? One thought is to use them as substitute teachers as needed throughout HeadStart. Given that this sort of incident is not encountered by the organization on a regular basis, many questions are up in the air until questions about how to fund the situation are resolved. Towards the end of the year, HeadStart always faces a budget crunch. There is concern that not having the Alton children in class for the remainder of the school year will affect the program's funding. Any shortfall will not doubt affect next year's crop of pre-schoolers.

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