Parents Worry Elementary In Bountiful Won’t Be Ready Before School Starts
BOUNTIFUL, Utah – Hannah Holbrook Elementary School looks more like a construction zone than a haven for learning.
The elementary in Bountiful, which was built in 1962, underwent a $1.3 million renovation in May. Davis School District Officials said Thursday the building is still torn up.
Sources told KSL TV the renovations were contracted to be completed on Aug. 18. District officials would not confirm this and said they weren’t aware of a promised completion date.
“There has been a delay because of COVID-19,” Davis School District Communications Specialist Chris Williams said. “Parents and teachers need to be patient and understanding.”
Parents volunteered to help teachers set up their classrooms this week.
“I was completely shocked by the state of our school,” Tara Nelson said. “I only meant to stay for an hour; I ended up staying for four. Our teachers are being pushed to the limits and forced to set up their classrooms in ridiculous conditions.”
Nelson is a mother to three children who attend Holbrook Elementary.
“There was no air conditioning while we were moving heavy furniture into the classrooms for teachers,” Nelson said. “It was 90 degrees in the upstairs classrooms. It was too hot to function. I kept looking at the teachers and asking, ‘Are you all OK?’ There was no running water, and walls are still torn apart.”
Both parents and teachers advocated for a later start date to grant educators more time to prepare once the school is finally renovated.
Parents told KSL that Davis School District Officials never listened or considered their viewpoint.
“We are most definitely starting school Tuesday,” Williams said. “Will the school be perfectly pristine? No. But we’ll be ready, and it will be a great school year.”
Some teachers have been staying as late as 10 p.m. to organize and clean up their rooms amidst the construction mess.
“I don’t expect our teachers to work through weekends – but that is exactly what is going to happen in order to be ready for the first day of school,” Nelson said. “They aren’t being paid for this, and it could have been prevented. The district has been silent as teachers are crying out for help.”
All water lines are being replaced. Crews are adding new culinary piping and installing two new boilers as well as new cabinets.
Parents said the renovations are not up to code. Children are set to start school with exposed pipes and surfaces especially unsuitable for younger children and those in wheelchairs. The updates do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Workers installed drinking fountains too high for younger children to reach.
Currently an RV sits on campus next to the Holbrook Elementary School Playground. Construction crews are living on site.
“I am not comfortable with an RV parked on school property,” Nelson said. “If District Officials knew six weeks ago about a backlog in supplies, why didn’t they plan ahead so that this transition could be smooth, maybe even a small dose of normalcy, for our children?”
Williams said 20 out of the 24 classrooms are completed, but renovations will still need to be completed during the school year.
“I worry about my kindergartener surrounded by loud noises and construction,” Nelson said.
Davis School District officials decided to only send children to in-person school two days a week, with online class three days a week.
The district approved two days of pay to cover a portion of teachers’ prep time spent during the past weeks.
“These teachers are amazing,” Nelson said. “They have extra students added to their classes, and they are trying to make sure every student feels loved and cared for while navigating through a pandemic and construction.”
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