By TONIA HILL
The Kenwood Academy High School Local School Council (LSC) unanimously adopted a resolution on the condition of the school building at their monthly meeting on Thursday, July 6.
Last week, a coalition of students, parents, and teachers met with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Board of Education, 42 W. Madison St., to urge them to take action to improve the condition of their school.
The coalition came before the board to demand a thorough cleaning of all vents and ducts at Kenwood before school starts in the fall, fully staffed engineering and custodial departments, a full asbestos abatement, and complete replacement of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system [HVAC].
The board agreed, last week, to take the first steps in addressing issues at the school.
First, on the list is adding an extra engineer and more custodians.
Additionally, an air quality test will be conducted in mid-July according to Alfonso de Hoyos y Acosta, chief administrative officer at CPS.
“We are going to reallocate some of the custodians that we have on the evening shift to the day shift starting at noon to allow additional coverage at peak time for the start of the next school year,” said Acosta in a previous article in the Herald.
Two full-time custodians are assigned to clean the building, which is made up of 1,500 students and 100 staff members during school hours.
In August, the HVAC coil and HVAC chiller pumps will also be replaced.
Since the board meeting last week, a new engineer was hired and began this week at Kenwood.
The Kenwood LSC, at their meeting on Thursday, praised the efforts of the coalition that called on the district to act in addressing the issues at the school.
“[Kenwood] LSC members participated in the June 27, 2017, meeting with Aramark, CPS Facilities, Principal Jones, and Alderman King, where many promises were made,” said the Kenwood LSC in a written statement. “The [Kenwood] LSC stands ready to support the coalition, which will monitor progress and action on these promises.”
Additionally, the LSC stated that they would like the school to be included on CPS’s FY18 capital budget plan for the district.
“They need to put the school on the 2018 Capital Budget so that system [the HVAC] can be replaced not repaired,” said Danielle McDaniels chairwoman of the Kenwood Parent Advisory Council [PAC] in a previous interview with the Herald. “If there’s enough money to build a school surely there’s enough money to fix and replace the AC.”
The Capital Budget at CPS refers to funds that are dedicated to school repair, improvements, and overcrowding relief for the district.
Kenwood’s HVAC system is from 1969 and has a lifespan of 20 years.
Kenwood senior, Ciara Evans said, last week, that there is a broken pump that causes temperatures at the school to vary.
She stated that sometimes there is not cold air circulating at all and the third floor is the hottest area of the school.
“The teachers shouldn’t have to pay for fans and space heaters for their classrooms it’s not fair to them,” McDaniels said.
In a previous article in the April 12 issue of the Herald, Kenwood called on the district to provide additional custodial services after the school failed two health inspections in March.
The Kenwood community blamed CPS’s failure to provide appropriate custodial resources as a cause of the failed checks.
Problems in the inspection listed according to public records included mice droppings in numerous areas of the school.
More frequent pest control visits will also be conducted as well as a plan of action to address water leakage. Other items for improvement include interior painting.
The Kenwood LSC also noted in their resolution the assistance provided by Kenwood Principal Dr. Gregory Jones, faculty, and staff members, who have taken it upon themselves clean up the school.
Jones said in a previous interview with the Herald that faculty at the school volunteered to conduct walkthroughs at the school on Saturdays.
They document issues on a clipboard and take pictures, which typically takes an hour.
Jones then passes on the information to their Aramark contact. Also, Jones has had to use money from the school’s budget to purchase additional cleaning supplies.
“Dr. Jones has been boots on the ground since day one,” McDaniels said. “He’s very committed to the school and its mission. You can catch him in the summertime painting on the inside.”