Students that attend Druid Hills High School in Atlanta, Georgia can finally rejoice, as their efforts to bring much-needed school renovation repairs to their campus will finally see the light of day. It’s been a long, arduous road for student activists to bring national attention to the deplorable conditions in which students had to attend school. Now, the school board finally voted through an approval to renovate the high school.
The Associated Press reported on the unanimous decision in favor of the school renovations voted by members of the DeKalb County school board. It is unfortunate, however, that this decision came this year after being voted down in multiple board meetings. Finally, the board succumbed to pressure from the state and national demands from a viral video that students created to showcase the issue.
A group of students showcased their video recording skills a few months ago when they created an 8-minute video on one student’s iPhone displaying the wretched state of the campus in dire need of school renovations. In the video, students are seen walking through the campus, showing viewers just how bad the situation is. In an outside lunch picnic area, a student shows where raw sewage often floods the area where students come to eat lunch. He says the smell is repulsive when the sewage floods the area.
Others showcased the deteriorating state of the student bathrooms in need of school renovations. She shows a missing panel in the ceiling from which water leaks into a trashcan. She says the bathroom has looked like this for months. The boy’s restrooms are no better, as most of the locks are broken, and some stalls are still missing doors. Some severe updates will be required to be resolved by June 30th.
After garnishing viral attention, the school board was set to once again vote on a measure to bring school renovations to the failing Druid Hills high school. But despite the student’s best efforts, it was once again voted down last month. But after this Tuesday, May 31st, the board finally voted through a plan to make repairs. It will be a $50 million endeavor to bring the school up to par.
The board made note that some school renovations, like roof repairs, would be completed within the next two weeks. Additionally, a broken sewer line will be repaired by the end of this week. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning problems will also be fixed soon. Long-term renovations will be completed under a five-year plan.
The Druid Hill school renovation issue sheds light on a growing concern among other schools in the district, that some say shows signs of racial division. Students in other, predominantly Black, schools in the area also brought attention to the awful state of their school buildings. Others made note that some schools, in wealthy areas in which the majority of students attending were white, attended schools in much better conditions.
Additionally, the tension led to board members’ decision to fire the at the time superintendent, Cheryl Watson-Harris, blaming her for the poor conditions of the school. This, however, seems odd to many, as ultimately the board members voted down measures to make the needed school renovations. Siding with those in favor of making swift upgrades to the school, the state hired Tanzy Kilcrease as an interim superintendent. Kilcrease has vowed to assess school conditions within all the district’s campuses.
The story of Druid Hills is only one of many seen across public schools in America. The majority of all school buildings in the US are outdated, and most of them are more than 42 years old. Because of schools like this one, more and more government initiatives are looking to funnel more money to schools to make necessary school renovations, and bring them up to date with the demands of climate change.