Mountain View community pleads case for new school
by Hannah Morgan
October 24, 2013 01:16 AM | 3706 views | 11 11 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Parents are frustrated with dealing with excessive traffic, lack of safety and the thriving mold growth across the school building at Mountain View Elementary School in northeast Cobb.

“Our school is gold, but our building is old,” said Karin DeAmicis, a mother of two Mountain View students.

DeAmicis has been active in campaigning for the rebuild of Mountain View Elementary with special purpose local options sales tax dollars.

Cobb Board of Education Chairman Randy Scamihorn expects Superintendent Michael Hinojosa or his staff to present the board with a list of seven schools that could be rebuilt at tonight’s meeting.

Only two of the seven will be selected for rebuilding. Scamihorn hopes the board will make its selection by its December 11 meeting at the latest.

A traffic jam DeAmicis and fellow Mountain View parent, Susan Tucker, stood above the parking lot on Wednesday afternoon and watched the traffic jam unfold as the final school bell rang.

Parents were lined up in their minivans and trucks almost 45 minutes before the school day ended. Once dismissal began, the parking lot filled with parents walking across it with their children, buses moving toward the exit, cars driving up the exit lanes to park and cars in the pick-up lane trying to exit.

There was no rhyme or reason to how the pickup system worked, said Tucker, who worries daily for the safety of her child, a fifth-grader at the school.

“I don’t like sitting on the road,” said Ruth Somerlot, parent of a first grader at Mountain View, who was sitting in the car lane at 11:45 a.m. for a 12:20 p.m. dismissal.

By noon, a long line of cars sat along Sandy Plains Road, waiting to turn right into the school.

Another parent, Darlene Leistra, who was waiting on foot in front of the school, said she had parked at the nearby Mountain View Library and walked to pick up her first grader, just to avoid the traffic in the pick-up line.

“I live 1.2 miles from here on Hickory Bluff Road. It will take me 35 minutes to pick up my child if I drive from home,” she said, which is why she parks at the library and walks to the school.

Banks’ proposal unpopular Board member David Banks, who represents the area, has been to visit the school twice this year, Tucker said. In August, he proposed building a road from Holly Springs Road to the school’s bus lanes, cutting behind the nearby community center and library. Parents didn’t think this would be a viable option, and were upset that money might be considered on a project they didn’t want.

“The board needs to run these things by us first. I think our money might be better spent,” if they do, and the parents agree to go along with the plans, said Tucker.

Parents all said they were happy with the school’s location, just not the traffic that was associated with getting their kids there.

Mountain View Elementary currently has just over 800 students, DeAmicis said. It has the capacity to hold 887.

The parking lot has 132 parking spaces, she added.

It is divided between three separate buildings, connected by enclosed breezeways that link the two further buildings, which house classrooms, to the main building. In order to get to the cafeteria, students have to walk through the breezeway, which doesn’t directly connect to the cafeteria.

The breezeway leads straight into the gymnasium, so when it is raining, or teachers don’t want to take their children across the outdoor walkway that runs through the parking lot to get straight to the cafeteria, they have to walk through and interrupt gym classes.

As the school day ended, two kindergarten classes trooped across the parking lot, which was overflowing with cars, with their teacher in order to get to the cafeteria for dismissal.

“It’s ridiculous. It opens them up to an unsafe environment, anyone can drive by and do anything,” said Kim Jones, the parent of a fourth-grader at Mountain View.

Board members Banks, Randy Scamihorn, Kathleen Angelucci and Brad Wheeler have all visited the school, Tucker said, and Tim Stultz, David Morgan and Scott Sweeney have been invited but have yet to make it out for a site visit.

Board members are just beginning their discussions on which two schools will be selected to be rebuilt, though Mountain View parents believe their school deserves a rebuild.

“We are just starting the conversation. I don’t know what schools will be chosen in the final decision. I can say Mountain View is an excellent school, and has an excellent faculty,” Scamihorn said, although many of the school’s top problems with the building, he believes, can be solved with further construction, it does not qualify for a complete rebuild.

“I believe their biggest problem is not so much the buildings, as poor construction and band-aid type repairs,” he said, noting the large amount of mold across many surfaces in the school.

Medicine to get through the school day

In the gym, the walls are leaking with rust-colored streams of liquid, where flags and posters hang to cover the peeling spots on the wall.

As parent-teacher conferences and a book fair went on, parents, students and teachers walked through the halls where patches of gray mold were visible.

The back of the school is built partially underground, and the school has experienced severe flooding, especially last March, DeAmicis said.

The outside walls of the school were spotted with patches, where leaking holes had been attempted to be patched up with tar, but to no avail, Tucker pointed out.

Teachers and students, including her daughter, have had to start taking medicine just to get through the school day, DeAmicis said.

One teacher, who wished to speak off the record to protect her job, said she is taking medication to deal with the increased moisture and mold in the school’s classrooms.

The school has its own foundation, Mountain View Elementary Foundation, which raises money to fund extra technology, science and other improvements for the school, Tucker said, although, “No offense to Chick-fil-A, we can’t sell enough chicken biscuits to build a new school.”

The parents at Mountain View want it to be rebuilt to alleviate the building’s mold and leaks and address the traffic and safety concerns of the outside walkway.

They want the full support of Banks, who has recently shown support to merge two other elementary schools: Eastvalley and Powers Ferry Elementary.

Until they have assurance they will be taken seriously for a rebuild, the parents will not stop lobbying their board members and showing up dressed in yellow shirts at the board’s meetings, they said.

Tonight’s board meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be in the board room at 514 Glover St. in Marietta.

Comments
(11)
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ECP
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October 26, 2013
Sadly, those who are deriding Mountain View are doing so on the basis of concerns over traffic. They are missing the point of the needs for a new school. It is the mold, the potential illnesses, and water issues that are the reason for the need for a rebuild. I do not have children at Mountain View. I do not have children in elementary schools. I do recognize that sickness and health concerns are more important than whether or not a school is simply old and the parents would like something newer.
newschoolnow
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October 25, 2013
The comments about riding the bus to reduce traffic apply to the entire city. A large part of Atlanta's traffic is because parents drive their kids to public and private schools as opposed to riding the bus. To the poster that said we should just move - believe me, we think about it often - but if everyone moves or goes to a private school then we are just creating another Vinings/Smyrna situation.

Not aware of $1 million in renovations in the past 4 years - sure doesn't look like it. Perhaps you were thinking of all the astroturf fields the high schools received.
ECP
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October 25, 2013
Mr. Sweeny, Mr. Banks, Mr. Wheeler;Thank you for serving on Board, and being able to keep the interest of the students as your reason.

Next year, we will face another major deficit, one that could have been reduced, except for the fact that Ms. Angelluci and Mr. Stultz decided to serve the business interests. Mr. Stultz, education and education needs do not come before business. Education and reasonable class size comes before business. I am not sure how Ms. Angelucci and Mr. Stultz were even elected, based on their desire to serve business instead of education. So many votes by these two come down to business interests and not student interest. What surprised me about the vote to defeat LEST was that I felt Mr. Scamihorn made a decision to not support teachers and students. In the past, I had thought Mr. Scamihorn served for the purpose of making schoos better for students. I am saddened by what I perceive to be a change in his purpose. Those citizens who scream about LEST being anothe rtax are correct, but what are the options.? Mr. Scamihorn, Mr. Stultz, Ms. Angelucci and Mr. Morgan don't seem to have ideas about how to fix the budget and class sizes. People of Cobb, please don't scream about upcoming school crises, when you have chosen people who represent business and not students.
Midlef2
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October 25, 2013
The layout of this school is ridiculous, with kids having to go outside in the cold dead of winter just to get to the cafeteria.
IceDogg
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October 25, 2013
It's Georgia, not Maine. The little snowflakes will survive a 20 yard jaunt across the parking lot. However, they don't *need* to go outside to get to the cafeteria. The buildings are connected via a covered, windowed, breezeway.
English Teatime
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October 24, 2013
Let your kids ride the bus. That should cut down the line of minivans.
Cobb School Advocate
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October 24, 2013
What a bunch of baloney ! Ride the bus - or move to a school that you prefer it's traffic patterns/location - like maybe Powers Ferry built in the 50's, not like Mtm. View which is a new school - built in 80's.

If there is a mold problem, then I am certain that it can be cured just like the mold problems in other buildings and schools.

Why is this crap on front page ?
Mary M.
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October 24, 2013
It sounds like Mountain View needs a new bus entrance and layout improvement (inc relocated gym). But the school was rebuilt in the 1980s. Powers Ferry was built in 1953 and is falling down. If the decision is made on buildings (judging all kids equally), then Powers Ferry should come first.
Money to Burn
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October 24, 2013
Not to mention the nearly $1 million in renovations at Mountain View in just the last four years. Do these parents want all of the taxes that paid for these to just be bulldozed under? Renovate, renovate, renovate!
IceDogg
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October 24, 2013
I had three children attend Mountain View over the years. You know, if you let your precious little snowflake ride the school buses that are provided to you, then you don't need to sit in line for 45 minutes. And, if enough parents do that, the traffic problem doesn't exist. But, we know, YOUR child is special and too good to ride the bus.

Mold issues can be resolved without rebuilding. You just need the right professionals in there to address it.
Bainiac
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October 24, 2013
Thank you, IceDogg! Finally! Someone gets it! But stand by for the endless excuses that are bound to pour in.
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