Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) released the following statement after learning that the Trenton Board of Education is filing a lawsuit against the State to seek appropriate funding for significant and costly repairs to Trenton Central High School:
“The State of New Jersey and the Schools Development Authority have shown indifference toward Trenton’s children for more than a decade. They have ignored the deplorable conditions of our high school where our students must spend their school days. It is gratifying to know that the Trenton Board of Education is finally taking this long-needed action. Since our state government has failed our urban students, I am confident that our courts will prove to be the venue where they receive justice and fairness.”
“The Schools Development Authority has not allocated nearly enough money to provide for all the repairs necessary for the school to be brought up to standard. Now we know that even more structural damage exists with the auditorium floor. As the condition of the school has been ignored, the problems have gotten worse. We’ve now reached a point where endless patch work and band-aids will not suffice. It’s time to pull the plug and take the high school off life support. We need to build a new Trenton Central High School.
“All students deserve a safe and healthy school environment no matter where they live, and that should not be determined by zip code.”
Senator Turner has called on Governor Christie to tour Trenton Central High School to see the deplorable conditions firsthand. A copy of her letter follows.
August 22, 2013
The Honorable Chris Christie
Governor, State of New Jersey
P.O. Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
RE: TRENTON CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
Dear Governor Christie:
Please allow me to bring to your attention concerns about the deteriorating and deplorable condition of Trenton Central High School.
As you are aware, the school is in need of major repairs to prevent further structural and interior damage caused by leaks from the roof. Many of the school’s classrooms and offices are already environmentally and structurally unsound, and the water and moisture from a particularly rainy summer have created more mold and damage to the ceilings, walls, and floors. The heating, plumbing, and electrical systems are outdated and exposed electrical boxes and wires in the classrooms create a major hazard for students. Buckets are placed all around the school, in classrooms and in the hallway to catch the rain water. Parts of the building are now unusable due to mold, asbestos, and structural problems. In fact, the condition of the school is in such disrepair that it should be rendered uninhabitable. However, this is the building where our students will report when school reopens in September.
We have recently learned that a major structural problem has been found in the school’s auditorium where students would be gathering as a community during the first days of the school year. The auditorium is now off limits until repairs can be made, leaving our students with no meeting place for assemblies or school performances. Additionally, the longer repairs are delayed, the more money the district must spend on maintenance and more extensive repairs. These are funds that could be used to educate our children.
In January, I brought all stakeholders to the table to meet and resolve any problems that were delaying the repairs to the school. The Schools Development Authority (SDA), Department of Education, Trenton Central High School parents, the district’s Superintendent, the Trenton Board of Education president, facilities personnel, and legislators all attended. A company providing mold remediation contacted me and offered to provide the school district with services at no cost to improve the conditions for the students, but that work could not be done until the roof repairs were made. The SDA promised that once the students left for summer break, the roof work would be done. Regrettably, that did not occur and the condition of the school after this summer’s rainstorms has gone from worse to deplorable. Legislative hearings, meetings with the SDA’s CEO, Mark Larkins, and several tours of the school have failed to move the SDA to action.
Providing students with a safe, clean, and healthy school environment in which to learn and achieve is the cornerstone of a quality education. Trenton’s high school facility is inadequate to begin to meet the educational needs of our students. Our students in our capital city deserve to attend classes in a building and classrooms that instill pride in themselves, their school, and their community. The condition of the school is only adding to the pressures, instability, and chaos in the homes and/or neighborhoods of our students. I believe it is time that we consider building a new school instead of continuing with the patch-up work and band-aid fixes that do nothing to improve the condition of the building or its dungeon-like atmosphere.
Your attention to this important issue is necessary to ensure that our residents, especially our children, know that they are valued and that our capital city has not been abandoned or forgotten. All students deserve a safe and healthy school environment no matter where they live, and that should not be determined by zip code.
I would like to invite you to tour Trenton Central High School with the 15th district’s legislators and Mr. Larkins before the school year starts. It is my sincere hope that you will have the time in your busy schedule and that your attention to the needs of the students will help to expedite the necessary repairs to help improve the health and safety of the building until a new one can be built. Thank you for your kind consideration.
Shirley K. Turner
Senator – 15th District
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