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Northwood faces wide gaps in safety and security

By Gerald Totten
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2007

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Pittsboro, NC - Facility concerns of Northwood High School as reported is last week’s edition of the Chatham News and Record were fairly reported last week. What is somewhat ludicrous was the spin doctor’s comments attributed to the spokesperson for the school’s central office.

That POD (a unit comprised of several trailers joined to provide classroom spaces) was approved for purchase by the Board of Education last summer. It was supposed to have been occupied by the start of the school year in August but, because of one excuse after another, wasn’t until January of this year.

Room door locks for protection of the students and teachers should have been specified on the original order but were not even ordered until three weeks ago. The lack of communications between the POD and the front office should have also been specified at the time of the original order. The cables and tie-ins could have been pre-wired at the factory then hooked together by flexible cable at the time the several units were joined on site.

After much clamor four hand held radios were finally provided last month where eight are essential to provide each teacher with a means to call for help if needed or to receive essential information from the principal’s office. The spin is that some one year after the POD was ordered wiring will be installed during students’ summer vacation at added cost to the school system and taxpayers.

Readers are supposed to read into the spokesperson’s comments school employees are doing all they can to rectify matters which should have been part of the original order last summer. Balderdash! What happened to prior central office planning? Instead we are into the fourth month of occupancy with wide gaps in safety and security issues.

According to the spokesperson, examination of the carpeting and assembly errors had already been planned by the central office before they were made public. How can that statement be believed when the Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services advised the Board of Education members one day after the issues were publicized he was contacting the manufacturer?

Equipment has been patched until it can’t be patched anymore because antique parts are not available.

The condition of Northwood’s stage and lighting system was no secret to the central office either. The dimmers and lighting equipment has been repaired frequently. The stage is the original put down when the school was built. It suffers from normal wear and tear by being used for productions as well as civic groups over the years. Equipment has been patched until it can’t be patched anymore because antique parts are not available. The comment about “logistics” being a cause of delay since there was a musical last weekend does not hold any water. What happened to the ability to inspect it last year or ten years ago or even before the latest musical production? This area has simply lacked periodic maintenance over decades and was not the fault of any musical last weekend!

Furniture in the media center shows normal wear and tear as well. After all, most of it dates to the original occupancy of the school over 35 years ago. The furniture quotes alluded to were from suppliers on the state contract, something the media center was asked to obtain by the Parent Teacher Student Association and the undersigned. Had Auxiliary Services inspected the area, it should have already had the quotes!

Among things I learned in my military career was when controversy rears its ugly head, the best way to handle it is “Tell it all, tell it fast and tell the truth.” It is a shame Auxiliary Services and the Superintendent tried to cover all of these long standing and well-known discrepancies with pap.


Gerald Totten is a Chatham County Board of education member elected in November 2006.

Related info:
Gerald Totten Blog
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Related info:
Gerald Totten Blog