School renovations continue to be grossly neglected

A cracked ceiling tile found in the upstairs English hallway is just one preventable hazard in the school.

Photo by Brendan Glaser

A cracked ceiling tile found in the upstairs English hallway is just one preventable hazard in the school.

After being delayed time and time again, the school was finally scheduled to undergo a major capital project in 2019. However, other schools in the county such as Seneca Valley, Walt Whitman and Poolesville have since jumped our school in the renovation process. Last year the Board of Education (BOE) pushed the completion date for the school renovations back to 2029. This is three years later than the previously scheduled completion date of 2026.

One of the main concerns regarding the long overdue renovations is that the building lacks the appropriate infrastructure for students with disabilities and special needs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is over 30 years old and the majority of MCPS schools including our own are still not compliant. There is only one suitable wheelchair location in the entire school and only one emergency exit in the designated area for the special education program. That one emergency exit “empties out onto a relatively narrow strip of sidewalk above a steep hill of grass – an extremely precarious setup in cases of emergencies for special needs students with physical challenges,” senior and SGA member Bill Godnick said.

In addition to the legal and ethical issues about getting the school into compliance with ADA standards, our more than half century old school has been accumulated with mold across the ceilings and floors of the bathrooms. An exposure to large amounts of mold can cause side effects such as excessive coughing and difficulty breathing. In addition it can lead to long term health problems such as asthma. Mold isn’t the only thing infesting the school bathrooms. Cockroaches, snakes and other creatures have been reported throughout the building, making students uncomfortable. “Our school is filled with toxic substances and every year Wootton students testify to move our school up on the renovation list but every year the date is pushed back,” senior Carli Katz said.

Several of the rooms in the school are outdated, including the fashion room. The fashion room, which is located downstairs near the cafeteria, is also a woodworking room, which can pose danger to students in that space due to dangerous supplies. “The fashion room still has industrial machines,” senior Savannah Rabin said.