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A good school system is a recruitment Incentive for Federal

families with school-age children to work in Puerto Rico. When

our children are happy and developing well in school programs, we

parents can enjoy living and working in Puerto Rico,

Problems of ACS

We have two problems with our children's edu

cation in ACS:

1.

Demolition of ACS Middle School - The permanent Ele

mentary School and High School buildings were constructed by the

HEW Office of Education and are located on land which has been

deeded to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

In

contrast, the Middle School classes have been housed since 1966

in old wooden Army barracks which were built in 1942 with an expected

use period of ten (10) years.

During the Vietnam conflict, the en

rollment at the Elementary and Junior-Senior High School jumped

drastically, and immediate relief was needed for housing the influx

of students. Naturally, HEW could not erect a permanent building

overnight. When the Army generously offered the use of the old

barracks for the school's purpose, It seemed that a temporary solution

had been found.

At the same time, an application for a new Junior

Senior High School on the base was accepted by the Office of Edu

cation and, subsequently, the final plans were approved 21 Oct. 1969.

Unfortunately, the money needed for construction under Section 10

of PL 81-815 was frozen by then President Nixon, and our school

now claims the dubious distinction of having the oldest project on

a list of building application that has been approved, but never funded.

The Army barracks housing the Antilles Middle School have

continued to deteriorate with time, to the point that they are now

condemned and will be demolished commencing 1 July 1977. And

rightfully so.

This situation was only tolerated because every year

It was expected that the freeze on new school construction would be

lifted and the plans approved In 1969 would be implemented.

Mean

while, for 11 years the students in these condemned buildings have

been exposed to the following life and safety hazards:

1.

Buildings with deteriorated plers and below-floor struc

tural members, liable to collapse from advanced decay alone or under

the stress of major storms (Puerto Rico is in the hurricane belt.)

2.

Combustible buildings with unsafe electrical wiring,

corridors that are narrower than the legal minimum, and no manually

[blocks in formation]

leptospirosis, a disease which may result in fatal hepatitis.

4.

Buildings surrounded by open drainage ditches, a source

of disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Our children and their teachers have been subjected to the

ever present danger of these bat-, rate, and termite-infested buildings

for too long. It is inconceivable that the Federal Government has

been willing to educate our children in these deplorable conditions.

Toward the end of the school year 1975-76, the administration

announced that several of the old barracks were to be torn down during

the Summer recess. Because the parents were concerned about possible

overcrowding and loss of some special services, they became loosely

organized in hopes of bettering communication between parents, teachers,

and the administration in order to solve problems that might arise.

But when classes resumed in the Fall of 1976 and the Army gave

eviction notice to the Middle School, the concerned Parents Group

actively took part in finding a solution for the housing of 637 Middle

School students. First, an open house at the Elementary School drow

,

a large crowd.

A panel discussion outlined the status of the Middle

School buildings, the importance of keeping grades 5-8 separate from

the lower and upper grades, and the administration's alternative

lutions to the problems. The proposed solutions were (1) double ses

sions, (2) classes all year on the 45-15 plan, (3) portable classrooms,

and (4) ask the Army for any other unused buildings.

4

The portable classrooms were favored by the parents until

such time as the new Junior-Senior High School could be funded and

constructed, but HEW still did not have the funds avallable under

PL 81-815. During the

During the next six months additional meetings were held, ,

speeches

were given, and letters were written: to find an answer

to the problem. The first meeting with Resident Commissioner-elect

Baltasar Corrada was most fruitful and eventually resulted in the

arrival in Washington of two mothers whose main concern was to

lobby for the funds needed for portable classrooms.

By this time

the Concemed Parents Group had become the Parents Organization for

Quality Education and Buchanan Schools, having surmounted the obs

tacle of reaching the parents through 52 Federal agencies.

With the

help of Resident Commissioner Corrada, the parents were successful

in having language put into the HEW appropriations bill, H.R. 7555.

When this legislation is enacted, we will receive financial aid to

construct portable classrooms.

Until the time that the portable classrooms can be erected,

however, the Antilles Middle School will be spread out over a distance

of 1-12 miles, from the Elementary School to the High School (see

Fort Buchanan map in the Appendix). The fifth grade will be absorbed

into the Elementary School, thus creating overcrowded conditions.

The sixth grade will be housed in two buildings scheduled for demo

lition In 1978. The seventh and eighth grades will occupy half of

the U.S. Army Reserve building in front of the high school.

Since

this building is used by the USAR at night and on weekends, students

and teachers will not be allowed to keep supplies or materials in

the rooms.

The corridors of the USAR building is so narrow that the

students will remain in the classrooms and the teachers will change

classes.

No one in the administration has answered our question

on the fire and safety hazards. Two other buildings in that area are

being readied for use, one of which floods during heavy rains, which

are frequent in Puerto Rico.

The portable classrooms will relieve this strain when and if

they are made avallable, hopefully by January 1978.

But this type of

building will not last Indefinitely in the tropics, so it is necessary

to begin construction as soon as possible on the proposed Junior-Senior

High School.

In his In-depth Study of School Facilities, Dr. James Woffter

of the HEW Office of Education emphasizes the need for a new Junior

Senior High School.

He points out that the Middle School is not up

to the Life Safety Code and the American National Standard Institute

(A117.1-1961 (R1971) - Architectural Barriers to the Physically Handi

capped. Although scheduled for release 15 May 1977, this report

still has not been released.

The preliminary report is an adequate

analysis of the problems and needs of ACS.

The only error we can

find is that the High School and Elementary Schools are not fully air

conditioned --only the administrative wings are.

2.

Lack of Communication

Most of the problems parents

have experienced at ACA, including the above-mentioned need for a

new school, have a common factor of a basic lack of communication

between administration, teachers, and parents. This lack of commu

nication is evident in each problem or crisis and contributes to

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