Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Leak

I'm still without the Internet at home, but am enjoying the wireless at Evergreen right now as I prepare to get through my stack of IB essays so I can return them tomorrow.

I realized that I missed the big news of last week: that my classroom is a huge mess.

I love my job, but teaching in a very old, crowded building definitely has its detriments. For about a year and a half, I have had a slow leak in a corner of my classroom. I reported it right away, and folks from North Avenue have looked at it a number of times over the last year and a half, but nothing has been done. When part of the ceiling crashed on a student last year in the middle of class, they came and looked at it again; I believe that at that point, they tried to duct tape the pipe to prevent it from leaking. It was also at that point that they moved some shelving from that corner and noticed a ton of mold/fungus/mushroom-type things growing on the ground - not very hygienic! Our building manager bemoans the fact that they were (almost literally) putting a band-aid on the problem instead of really fixing it, but apparently there were budget issues preventing more.

This year, I thought the leak had been fixed over the summer, as the first few weeks of the school year were dry. I even put my Free Book Library in that corner. I was saddened one day when the leak popped back up, destroying lots of free books carefully culled from weeks of going to The Book Thing. I also had to pitch the bookshelf that I purchased and built from IKEA, another $50 down the drain. I was pissed off, but didn't know who to be pissed off at. I just told my building manager, raided the janitor's closet for a mop bucket to catch more of the leaking, and re-arranged my seating chart so no kids were sitting near it. A couple of weeks ago, in an attempt to add some humor to the situation, I started putting my plants under the leak, so they would get water.

This week, though, it got much worse. I think the Biology class above me must have used the sinks much more this week, as they did frog dissection, because the leak quadrupled in size. On Take Your Parents to School Day, the school put a huge bin to catch all the water, and it got halfway full overnight, and I taught with the constant din of a surprisingly loud "kerplunk" as my soundtrack. Then, another leak, totally independent of the first, on Thursday started coming from the radiators, which were not working at all on Friday - meaning my classroom was soaking wet and freezing. I ended up with a huge icy lake in the middle of my floor, plus a huge bin of water in the corner.

I ended up teaching in the library all afternoon, and am sort of planning on having to continue being there until Thanksgiving. They tell me they're going to be working on the leaks all throughout the weekend, but I've heard that before. We'll see what happens.

I've over being mad. I just want a new classroom; I have no faith at all that this will really be fixed.


Anonymous said...

1) Ah, yes. I remember the leaks. I also remember a picture of one of your colleagues standing under a caved-in ceiling with an umbrella and steaming hot water on the floor everywhere. I'm sure if that happened where I am now, it would be massive uproar. Then again, much smaller things become big uproars here.

2) I spent many a weekend at evergreen writing the papers that you're there grading. It's a great place. I'll be there a lot over the winter break.

Anonymous said...

I don't blame your lack of faith. I had to deal with a moldy basement office once, and finally solved the problem on a staff development day (when everyone else was out-of-building) by moving all the furniture--single-handedly--into a vacant classroom, from which I refused to move. It took awhile to finagle moving the phone lines upstairs but I got it done.

It was over a year later, when another principal came in and had the original room completely scrubbed down, repainted and climate-controlled that the IEP office went back down there.

I know of another teacher who also had to deal with mushrooms and Molds of Death, and moved her class out of there and into another place (the library, I think) until the school addressed the problem. Fortunately for her it was only a few days.

I think the bottom line is that you need to be as inconvenient as possible. Do not go back until you've seen the room under different conditions and at different times and found it in good condition. Drag the union and maybe even OSHA into things.

And perhaps the PTA or another local group (community organization, or does your school have an alumni association like Poly?) would be willing to help replace your bookshelf. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Once again I realize you write really well. Your column, published in key newspapers, would do more good than reams of education policy papers. Seriously

jackie said...

I agree with other posters-- I hope a solution presents itself soon, and that you have resources at your disposal (other than your own pocket) to help you get a better teaching environment. And with anonymous- I think anyone who reads your blog knows you're a great teacher, but you're also a great writer!

Anonymous said...

DUDE! I am so sorry about the leak (again)!! I definitely am happy to keep the broken blinds that have not been fixed in over 3 years over your watery quandary. But WHAT was with that STENCH that accompanied that last round of hyperhumidity from above? At first I thought it was some of the frog stuff, but it reappeared the other day when the Dept Chair was chased out of his room during a physics exam by a gurgle and powerfully pungent punch to the olfactory systems of his class.

-The Chaplain