We have recently been given access to a series of communications regarding a number of areas of concern about the upcoming Page Middle school and all the issues surrounding the project.
It is our own opinion that the location of the new planned middle school is not at all in the best interest of the community as a whole. It is further our opinion that there are ulterior motives for why the new Page Middle School is being built in this new location.
We are now going to start presenting these communications as it is very in depth and well thought out. We see a lot of wholes in the arguments coming from various Gloucester officials and will interject our own opinions throughout the series. Eventually, we will be putting up a website covering the subject in a proper timeline covering all the issues and let everyone determine your own final opinion on the matter, deciding if your best interests have been taken into consideration or not. It's the tax dollars of each Gloucester resident, present and future, at stake. Construction has not yet started and now is the time to get involved before it becomes to late.
So let's begin:
It is understood that statistics prove natural lighting enhances learning. It is understood that the proper utilization of glass in school buildings provides that lighting and can lower energy costs. It is also understood that the improper or over use of glass in school buildings can result in negative impacts such as higher design and construction costs, higher energy costs, higher up keep and maintenance costs, redesign and build over or modification costs, distraction of students from learning, students and staff becoming the target of a shooter and more.
To adequately protect the occupants of a school building from a potential outside shooter the use of glass must be done so in a manner as to prevent the shooter from obtaining a line of sight. The utilization of fences or other such barriers to obscure the line of sight will also provide cover, concealment and a perch for a potential shooter. When determining the transition point between a solid wall and glass, the height of a person plus three or so feet should be considered to prevent line of sight target acquisition. If there are trees, towers, buildings or other means for a potential shooter to gain a height advantage to establish line of sight those conditions should be considered as well.
The use of interior glass should also be considered thoroughly to minimize the ability of an inside potential shooter. In today’s reaction drills students are taught to systematically do what is possible to evasively minimize line of sight opportunity for a potential shooter. Glass areas between classroom and hallway or open area should not provide this line of acquisition or line of sight opportunity for a potential shooter. If glass is used in any of the areas not suggested it should be bullet proof in composition as should its framework.
Bullet resistant glass is expensive----up to $60 a square foot according to Tom Briggs, president of U.S. Armor. This in addition to the cost of framing and installation. Mr. Briggs’ company supplies glass across the country and makes types of it to withstand 9mm to .50 caliber.
Been quiet on this front but have been following your messages. Prior to the joint meeting I spent a large amount of time looking at every angle possible to try to get the SB to reconsider a number of things – but to no avail. I talked to a number of individuals in various walks of life. I poured over those bore reports, looked at past contracts, etc. Nothing seemed to make a difference in the way the train was going. We had an e-mail from a gentleman that looked at the exact square footage of glass in the new school and compared relative costs of strengthened glass and regular solid walls and it was considerable (as you already know). I brought it up at the joint meeting but no one at our meeting said anything except sheetrock walls get dirty and require repairs and painting regularly. Another individual e-mailed us with numerous suggestions on how to save money and nothing happened either. It seems the train is out of the station and moving faster by the day that nothing will stop it except when the contract bids do come in.
In any case, all that extra work took a toll on me and my work at VIMS. I got so far behind that I am now paying the price of making up lost times on my weekends. I don’t mind as I know in my heart I did my best.
By the way, it is ironic that the SB is concerned about school security and want SRO’s at all the primary schools but yet want all this glass in the new school that will compromise kids safety.
Board of Supervisors, Abingdon District
Your efforts, though ignored by some, are appreciated by many others. I do believe there will be a tremendous impact on the next couple of County elections due to what is occurring during the process of rebuilding Page Middle School. The citizens have spoken time and time again only to be ignored. There are members on the School Board and the Board of Supervisors who are in their positions for reasons other than doing what is in the best interest of the Gloucester Community.
I respectfully disagree with your general description of board members and will only speak for myself. My only reason for being on the school board is to do the best job I possibly can for the children of this county. I have had a very positive experience with the school system and want to give something back to this county and be part of the solution. As part of this effort we do need to look forward and plan beyond our terms to assure the school progresses and we stay in constant improvement. The federal and state governments have been failing us for many years and especially over the past 5+. Their unfunded mandates and the cutting of existing funding streams have burdened this community as well as many others to points that have been unseen in the past. We still have 5500 students and 850 staff members showing up each day at our schools and they deserve the best we(our community) can provide them since they are our future .
With all due respect, your response contains all the more reasons for you and board members from both boards to utilize available funds that are coming from the Gloucester Community in such a way as to get the most out of each and every dollar. In the area of school construction that is not the case and because of that fact there will be less dollars to utilize in other areas of equal or more importance like the school system operating budget.
There would definitely be more support for what is being done if you or anyone else could logically tell the Gloucester Community what justifies ignoring the Community and spending such a substantial amount of money to develop a new site in order to rebuild an incomplete, non-storm safe, glass filled, shooter friendly, high maintenance Page Middle School.
I guess we can go on and on with our emails but I assure you that the only goal is to complete a new school to replace the one destroyed by the tornado within budget that is safe, academically welcoming and one that flexible to withstand the many changes in the educational environment over the next 50+ years.
This issue you raise regarding glass in the building was modified from its initial plan and the glass was reduced. The area with the most glass can be closed off and access to the entire “house” can be restricted completely. We continue to work with the sheriff’s office to assure that we consider all things but Newtown introduced new threats that were never seen before and Newtown had some advanced security measures in place.
Our first and foremost objective is to have a safe place for our children to learn and I respectively disagree wholeheartedly that you would even think that anyone would do anything differently for reasons such as self-promotion. We have children, neighbors, friends, family in these schools each and every day and their safety is the only goal followed by the best academics we can provide.
***** Please see our notes at the bottom of this post. *****
added to the project that will do very little to safegard the students and staff within the new multi-million dollar school.
End of the thread.
***** Our Notes but not our production.
Email from Gloucester County, Virginia Sheriff, Darrell Warren:
Good morning to you! Unfortunately, my office has had zero input in the design of the new school. Supervisor James and I spoke last week about his feelings on the design and he is in favor of placing deputies in all schools but says he won’t allocate a nickel until they take some glass out of the Page plans. Supervisor Orth told me six weeks ago that he was going to call me for my input about the new design but I have yet to hear from him. I can tell you that I did read your letter in the Gazette last week and what you write is correct about target visuals. Unfortunately, I nor anyone in my office, really has a position to tell them how to design their building. In the past, the schools have welcomed the idea of the Sheriff’s Office conducting threat assessments of their campuses so it would make sense, to me at least, for them to ask for some safety guidance on new construction design. Having said all of this, I am sure that there are experts out there that are much more qualified than me, who study topics such as these and make recommendations. I would hope that they have consulted with someone like this but it doesn’t appear this way. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Take care!
Anyone see any issues here? This is the first in a series that most Gloucester residents will find very disturbing.