ANACOSTIA (WUSA) -- East of the river and a multi-million dollar construction project. But some parents and community leaders are upset that students at Anacostia High are still attending classes in the building during the renovation.
"They should be moved during the construction, anything can happen," said one parent.
"Kids should not be running around at a construction site, period," said another.
At issue?...students from Wilson High School in NW - which is also under construction - have been relocated to the University of the District of Columbia.
School Board member William Lockridge finds that suspicious. "It's because it's southeast and in southeast they think parents aren't going to stand up for the students, " he explained, "we need one school department regardless of socio-economics or race."
Tony Robinson with the city's Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization called the argument baseless. He said they studied the project and there were 8 alternate sites where students could be relocated but none of them could accommodate the 800 plus teenagers. However, the current building could house the students while contractors worked on renovations at a wing opposite classes.
9NEWS NOW toured Anacostia High School to see if parents had legitimate concerns about health and safety. It was surprisingly quiet in the middle of the work day. Crews are forbidden from drilling until after school hours. And the construction site is actually blocked off and sealed from the portion where kids are attending classes.
To accommodate the overflow from the main building, contractors built temporary classrooms in a wing that was once used for open space.
New principal Ian Roberts said, "The construction is not interrupting the teaching and learning that occurs here on a daily basis."
But some students, who are wearing uniforms for the first time, feel cramped in the new space. "It's irritating, you can't go anywhere we're all closed in," said one student.
As an example of the potential problems, Lockridge cited problems with construction at Sousa Middle School where students were getting sick. However, Robinson countered by saying, "I don't know why he's bringing up a situation that happened several years ago before our office was even created." Robinson continued that Lockridge only attended one meeting about the proposed construction and has never visited the school. He said Lockridge was in no position to criticize the project.
However, Lockridge remains unchanged and insists learning will be adversely affected during the 2 year project. He said the proof will be in test scores, which he fears may drop as a result.
Robinson said Anacostia is not alone. Students at Deal Junior High School in Ward 3 occupied the building during construction which was completed last year. Asbestos removal at Anacostia was performed over the summer.
Written by Delia Gonçalves
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