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which were built in 1942 with an expected use period of 10 years.


the Vietnam conflict, the enrollment 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

Education and, subsequently, the final plans were approved 21 October 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 applications 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. Meanwhile, for 11 years the

students in these condemend buildings have been exposed to the following

life and safety hazards:


Buildings with deteriorated piers and below-floor structural

members, liable to collapse from advanced decay alone or under the stress

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


Combustible buildings with unsafe electrical wiring, corridors

that are narrower than the legal minimum, and no manually operated fire

alarm system.

[blocks in formation]

leptospirosis, a disease which may result in fatal hepatitis.

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-, rat-, 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 or 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 drew a large crowd.


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 solutions to the problems

The proposed solutions were (1) double sessions, (2) classes all year

on the 45-15 plan, (3) portable classrooms, and (4) ask the Army for any

other unused buildings.

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 available under PL 81-815. During

the next 6 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 Baltazar Corrada del Rio 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 concerned Parents Group had

become the Parents Organization for Quality Education at Buchanan

Schools, having surmounted the obstacle of reaching the parents through

52 Federal agencies. With the help of Resident Commissioner

Corrada del Rio, the parents were successful in having language put

into the HEW appropriations bill, HR 7555.

When this legislation is

enacted, we will receive financial aid to construct portable


Until the time that the portable classrooms can be erected,

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

of 1-1/2 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.


sixth grade will be housed in two buildings scheduled for demolition

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.


corridor 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 questions 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 available, 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


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

Handicapped. 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 ACS, 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 communication is

evident in each problem or crisis and contributes to frustrations,

rumors, and frequent misunderstandings. Discussing a problem with an

individual teacher is usually positive. Both teachers and administrators

are usually accessible and willing to talk with parents.

frustration comes when one cannot get a definite answer or is given two

different answers to the same question. Some of these communication

problems could be avoided with regularly scheduled faculty meetings at

the Antilles Elementary School and Middle School instead of the current

practice of calling special (infrequent) meetings to discuss a

particular issue or administrative directive.

Scheduled monthly meetings

could serve as an open forum to discuss mutual concerns that would

benefit the overall educational program planning.

The communication problem is very evident in the apparent lack of

future planning. The Middle School building problem has been an issue

for 11 years.

The following example illustrates some of our problems

and the resulting frustrations.

The Army demolished several of the

most hazardous barracks last summer (1976). This action forced special

education classes to be relocated in the Elementary School.


was achieved by moving three kindergarten classes to other sites on

the base and by having one kindergarten class at the Sabana Seca

Communications Facility so a bus would not be required for these


At school registration on 9 August 1976, no one in the

administration could tell the parents where their kindergarten children

would be.

The Superintendent's office never sent a communique saying

where these kindergarten classes were located, any of the reasons for

the change, or asking for our cooperation during the year.

At an

open house on 14 October 1976, there were still parents who did not

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