2015-06-05 / Letters

High school needs renovation; no more ‘Band-Aids’

To the editor:

We, as representatives of the student body, feel compelled to voice the opinion of many residing students and alumni of Kennebunk High School.

After the failed attempt of the capital renovation referendum in January of 2014, the upcoming vote on June 9 is vital for our community.

Our high school is at risk of losing NEASC accreditation. An unaccredited high school not only negatively impacts current students going through the college application process, but also deters potential residents from settling in Kennebunk.

It is no easy task to re-certify. The process could take upward of a decade, potentially impacting students through the class of 2027. Some view the declining enrollment as justification for preventing the renovation. But, what will be the incentive to attend KHS if it remains in its current condition? Kennebunk High School is just as academically competitive as private schools in surrounding locations, though its interior and inability to meet safety regulations are no match in comparison to our peers. We do not lack the faculty, but the facilities, to support education.

Naysayers have previously voiced that sensible cuts must be made to wish list items that can wait. However, is a functioning sprinkler system a want? Or a heating system that hasn’t been updated since 1969? Or more than one handicap accessible bathroom? There is currently one handicap accessible bathroom in the entire 156,500 square foot facility, which also acts as a storage room for educational movies and a television set.

There is inadequate storage, seating, and parking for staff and students alike. There are nine portable classrooms that are literally decaying into the ground. There is an unequal distribution of heat, due to the repeated retrofitting of the space to meet academic needs. The current building was built in 1939 with additions in 1958 and 1983. Unfortunately, we have placed Band-Aids on broken bones for too long. There are 57 external doors and the most direct route between classes is to walk outside, across an active in/out driveway. We live in a different world, a world where safety concerns have increased. The fact that students must walk outside, requiring all 57 of the doors to be unlocked for access during passing times and lunch is unacceptable.

Both of us, along with the entire 2015 graduating class, have achieved some measure of academic success. Many have gained entrance into some of America’s top postsecondary institutions. Others are well prepared to enter the workforce. This renovation will not be something that will affect our own high school education. However, we as current students feel that the state of our facility is embarrassing, and most certainly is not an accurate representation of the rigorous education that we have received.

Finally, is it too much to ask for a school that is safe, accessible and conducive to learning for all students? If that is a want, then a serious reevaluation of our communities’ priorities is in order.

If there are any questions surrounding what some may believe to be wants please do not hesitate to ask either of us – or any current student or alumni of KHS. It is not acceptable for the building itself to impede the learning of its students, though this is the unfortunate present reality. We have made excuses for far too long. The need is now. On June 9th, we will be both proud and humbled to exercise our right and civic duty at the polls. We encourage you to join us and vote yes on the capital renovation projects. It’s time to show that the towns of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel value the health, safety and education of their youth.

Timothy Walsh, Cara McCluskey
Kennebunk High School, class of 2015

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