Dry erase boards separate classrooms at Uffelman Elementary School.
The computer lab without computers at Uffelman Elementary School.
MONTEREY, Tenn. -
Students at Monterey High School in Putnam County started the school year in an elementary school Wednesday after the fire marshal deemed their 57-year-old building too dangerous.
According to Principal Sonja Farley, the marshal noticed extremely flammable material in the roof because a tile was missing and told Farley the roof would have likely collapsed in 15 minutes if it caught fire.
"We had two fires last year," said Farley, adding, "They put themselves out before they got the roof so we were extremely lucky."
A few months earlier, Farley said she met with the Putnam County Commission pleading for a new building.
After nearly six decades, she said the facility simply was not up to par.
Now she feels their temporary space at nearby Uffelman Elementary School is no better.
There is not enough electricity to power the computer lab, which on the first day of school had just one computer.
There is not enough space in the library for the books, and the building could only accommodate limited equipment for science labs.
"No electrical plates, no Bunsen burners, no gas units anything like that," Farley explained, adding, "With all the emphasis on teacher evaluations and test scores, we're going to take a hit I'm afraid."
The building can also not accommodate a washer and dryer for special needs students learning life skills and the small gym has no air conditioning.
Many students and teachers say the biggest adjustment will be the open floor plan.
Many classrooms are divided by only bulletin boards, allowing the voices from the next "room" to interrupt the learning process.
"It's definitely going to have an effect on them. Some of them will be able to function pretty well and some of them will have a very difficult time," Farley said.
Senior Taylor King pleaded with county commission for a new building earlier this year.
Now, she believes they can no longer deny her request.
"[Monterrey students] can go out into the community, go into America or the world and be worth something, but if you're in a building that tells you constantly you're not, then you grow up feeling that way," King said.
Even though she will never enjoy the fruits of her labor, King believes it's worth the fight.
"If I have children that want to live here, then it'll be worth it, but it's worth it for every future generation that decides to call Monterey home," she said. "I'm in a small town girl, but that doesn't mean I have small town dreams."
When asked what she would like to say to the Putnam County Commission, King said "please and thank you."
The Putnam County Commission will vote August 20 on whether or not to fund a new high school for Monterey.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:21 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:21:11 GMT
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