Did New Jersey Governor Christie know about this school’s condition? Why didn’t this school get funding to make repairs? This school should not have a roof that leaks, holes in the walls and other deplorable conditons since Governor Christie stated every child deserves a quality education which should mean the conditon of the school should not be substandard.
Trenton High School students testify of deplorable conditions, lament lack of funding
By Trentonian Staff
TRENTON — Trenton High kids get a bad rap for poor behavior and grades. But yesterday when a mob of them showed up at a public hearing with state officials and school inspectors and the local school board, there wasn’t any noisy protest or disruption, said school board member Algernon Ward.
About 60 students showed up in the TCHS community room to protest, all right — by respectfully testifying, he said. About what TCHS is really like. In case the senators hadn’t heard.
“I told them of some of the conditions here, how some of the floors are warped, how there are dangerous pieces of metal hanging off of the ceiling in the gym,” said Luis Santiago, president of the Student Council. “How the roof is falling apart and leaking inside the school when it rains.
“It was also mentioned that they closed down the auditorium because of the asbestos. Right now, our auditorium is closed; it has been closed for almost two weeks. The first time they came in and tested, there was nothing; the second time they came in here, they made them shut it down.”
Another senior, Peter Aspinal, said, “We can’t even drink out of the water fountain because that’s lead that comes out of the pipes. Brown stuff comes out. And the bathroom floors are like all caved in because of the water. Half of these bathrooms are locked. We can’t even use the bathroom.
“How would they like one of their kids to come to this school, with these conditions?”
One of the adult officials testified that $24 million is needed just to make the “emergent repairs,” said Luis Santiago. “I commented that these are unsafe conditions for the children that come here, and (asked them) to help us to make this school a better place, because we are full-time students here, and we come here a lot.”
But he said another official testified that because of Trenton High’s low scoring across the state, “other schools come before us, have a higher priority.”
Sophomore Illora Burks Peters put it this way in an interview with The Trentonian afterward: “They treat Trenton High like it’s a bad school, when it’s not the kids that’s in it anymore, it’s just that they don’t care about it.”
Luis Santiago listened as all who testified and said the health and safety of the students is highly conducive to learning and should be the main priority.
“One thing they said was that we’re not totally broke,” he said. “We’re in a deficit , but we still have money … things having to do with our health and safety have to come in priority.”
After the hearing, the school’s new principal, Marc Maurice, said he brought to the senators’ attention the unsanitary and unsafe conditions in the school used by nearly 1,800 students and 200 staffers, and the fact that the auditorium is restricted.
“What’s next? We are waiting to hear from them,” Mr. Maurice said. “But the intense — the aura in the room, and the spirit in which we met, was very very positive. Our students were very candid. So was the board president …”
Some city politicians remain outraged. Juan Martinez, former county liason to the city Board of Education, pulled no punches in discussing budget-cutting Gov. Chris Christie and the thought of him possibly offering a mere $24 million for renovations at TCHS, when $150 million was being considered last year for a new TCHS.
“We should march on the governor,” Martinez vowed, “and demand a new school, and demand equity. But Trenton ain’t going to get nuthin.’ What are we going to get, a new roof? There’s only so much dollars they’re going to give. They’re giving new floors?
“That school is falling down! It’s falling apart, and it’s going to fall on somebody’s head. That school should be condemned. It’s dangerous — it’s a dangerous environment.”
Martinez said Christie has already shown he doesn’t care about city kids, by sending school construction money elsewhere.
Nothing will change, he said, “until we march on the state and really put this governor on check, and get CNN to come down here, because he wants to run for President of the United States, and he says he can beat Obama. But we need to tell the story nationally about what’s happening here in New Jersey, especially in Trenton, and how our kids are being treated.”