Thursday, September 10, 2015

Charles Records Response To Us About Page Middle School

Mr. Thompson, Thanks for the opportunity to comment on your last story concerning Page Middle School. Here is my response in its entirety to ensure no editorial liberties are taken. Good Morning Mr. Thompson,

Thanks for your message asking me to respond to your article concerning Page Middle School. I would be happy to take you and any other citizen of Gloucester County on a tour of the new building at anytime to dispel many of the false statements you have made in the story which I have included below for reference. It behoves the both of us to represent the truth, for me as an elected official, and you as a journalist.

I will try to respond to each of the items you mention as follows:

1. Fence at Rear of Building - The fencing is 6’ high and has capped tops on each individual newel post and baluster. In the event children are climbing on it, as you suggest, we have another problem which is supervision of our students. I have gotten to know the Staff at all of our schools and I don’t believe any of us have to worry about inadequate supervision. I also question the standards that you may think our children have. Our middle school students do use common sense and are generally well behaved.  (I might agree with you if you have one teacher per student.  Otherwise I just can not go along with the idea that 1 teacher can watch 25 students all at the same time.  Also, if the children, preteens, teenagers, offspring, are in fact as well behaved as you suggest, then I guess we will not see any form of detention this year for any of them?)

2. Railing Heights - The top of the railing astragals at Page Middle School are 42” high, not 3’.  (I corrected that in the last article as we did a measurement based on a photo that is not online.  We figured about 40 inches and will measure it with your tour.  Thank you.)

3. Lockers next to Railings - The Locker is in essence just like the railing, 42” high. If a student climbs on the lockers, or the railings for that matter, I would have the same response at Item #1.  (See 2. above.)

4. Mortified Engineer - I’m unsure of who your engineer is, as you didn’t identify them by name. I would wonder if they are a Licensed Professional Engineer or not. I am a Professional Engineer and Gloucester County Public Schools has employeed dozens of other Professional Engineers, licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, to design this project. As a Professional Engineer, our singular duty is to protect the Life, Safety, Health and Welfare of the General Public and it is not a duty I or any other Professional Engineer takes lightly. It is a slap in the face to suggest otherwise.  (You can speak with him at the next meeting between the BoS and School board joint meeting.)

5. Visible Escape Routes - As you mention "A question that has been brought to my attention is how did the school board manage to get a certificate of occupancy especially when there are no visible escape routes and or facilities for handicapped children that might be on the second floor? None." There are visible safety route signs placed strategically throughout the entire building. No less than 250 safety evacuation route signs exist and there are also another 90 exit signs that are lit in the event of a power failure to identify exit locations. I have attached a few pictures that show exactly what you say doesn’t exist. The pictures are of appurtenances to safely get physically disabled people from the 2nd floor to the 1st floor in the event of an emergency.  (Signs are not the concern.  Nice deflection.  How are you going to move handicapped children out if an emergency comes about and especially if they are on the second floor.)

You also go on to state, "If a fire should engulf the front of the building, the children will be locked in an outdoor courtyard that is fully fenced in with locked gates trapping them from being able to get out to safety.” This statement is ridiculously inaccurate. In the event of a fire at the front of the Building, the kids would exit the building into the rear courtyards and simply push the bar on the gate and walk through it. The gates operate just like any other commercial door, push the bar to exit. They aren’t locked from the inside, they are locked to the outside. This functionality also serves another important purpose and that is to keep unwanted guests from entering the building.  (This is good to know.  We did not get that part of the tour.  Have no issues being corrected here as our only interest is that of the public.)

With respect to the Certificate of Occupancy, it is appalling to suggest that anything other than the typical course of Occupancy was completed. To do so is reckless. What exactly do you mean to infer, when the State Fire Marshall, the Gloucester County Building Official, County Inspectors, Licensed and Bonded Contractors, School Board members, School Staff, Engineers, Architects and Private Third Party Inspectors have worked diligently to satisfy the myriad of design and building code requirements for a building of this kind? (That is real simple, please address 5 above and I want to thank you for the list of who is responsible should an accident befall any student due to what many consider a poor design and implementation of those 2nd floor rails.  My concern is the safety of the students and you are a pompous ass to word the above the way you have.  I must remind you that you are the public servant who answers to the people and not us who dare question stupidity.  May I suggest you take a course on the US Constitution through my friend Gary Porter who offers these and are published on this site.)

6. News Coverage - The News Station covered the Open House for one simple reason. We used to have another Middle School, 4 years ago it was destroyed by a tornado and it devastated our community. We have built a new school and it was opened to students for the first time. (That was just ridiculous on your part to even go there.)

7. Open Space in Building - The building design will stand the test of time and will be judged by it. Could it have been designed differently? Sure. Does it have high ceilings and large corridors? Yes. Is it something we should be proud of now that it is complete? Yes. I was a vocal private citizen when this was all being planned but, at the end of the day, the building is done. Adults have argued their points for nearly 4 years but now - the more important part - it is complete and What do the kids think about it? I am unsure if you noticed when you attended the Open House but the kids were amazed by it, The first day of school was flawless and the kids were amazed by it. Today they will walk in and they will be amazed by it. So while you, and many others I’m sure, still want to continue the contentiousness…it is over, water under the bridge. We can now, in the coming months, reflect and learn from the entire process to ensure several things are done differently for the next project, but this project is complete. 

 (Okay, let's really address this shall we?  We fought with the school board and the board of supervisors over many issues here and it was railroaded through regardless of what any of the people thought.  No one in the public were told what the interior designs would look like or that the county had plans for wasting taxpayer money so foolishly.  Proud of the school?  I am seriously thinking of taking my own out of it for safety reasons.  I only need one good reason at this point.)

8. Exercise Room - Childhood Obesity is a serious problem that we need to try to solve, this fitness room hopefully will help to those ends. As your pictures show, most of the equipment is for cardiovascular exercise and will be integrated into our Program of Studies in Middle School which also aligns with the curriculum at our High School.  (What medical doctors were consulted here?  From what I am seeing online through medical experts, you need an experienced weight trainer to design specific programs per person here.  Do you have such a person?  I will check with my own doctor for further information.)

9. Safety in General - 2 story school buildings are not uncommon throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia or the entire Nation. See above.  (And where did that come from?  That was just ......well...... not needed.  But gee, thanks all the same.  I went to several of them.  Another of your pompous ass comments)

With respect to the Waterline at Page Middle School, I offer the following - Mr. Hogge sent the School Board and Board of Supervisors several messages concerning the inadequate cover over the pipe, Mr. Hutchinson’s latest response, which you published, explained exactly what we plan to do to remedy the situation. Mr. Hogge’s response was as follows:

"Outstanding!! This is very good news. Great work!! Thank you Mr. Hutchinson, and please thank everyone involved. - Kenny"

Why don’t you publish that? I’m guessing because it doesn’t “sell” the story.
(I am going to love this.  Here is why Charles.  You are NOT privy to private conversations between Mr Hogge and myself.  So let me clue you in.  Kenny's statement above is in regards to making sure that those responsible for having screwed up the 16 inch pipes being disturbed after being put in the first time is what the comment refers to.  What you are not aware of is that Kenny's personal opinion and I restate "OPINION" is that those pipes can break at anytime causing massive flooding due to the joints being disturbed causing a weakening of those pipes.  Then it might turn out to be a great idea that the mountain of dirt was left so that the students and teachers have some place to escape to.)

As an aside, it appears your blog has been created to promote transparency, yet from my viewpoint, shows your discontent. The title of the two articles alone; “Page Middle School, Serious Life Threatening Concerns to Consider” and “The Waterline at Page Middle School: Disaster Waiting to Happen Here Too?” is typical of media sensationalism to a degree that questions your integrity as a journalist. I’ve attached both articles for your reference. As a member of an elected Board we are no strangers to criticism but I would like to remind you of an old saying: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." This particular story asserts facts that are blatantly false as highlighted above. (You have only corrected one area that I see after we did so.  You have not corrected any facts.  What we do on this site is done to protect the people from potentially corrupt government and inform the people of what is going on in the community.  Can you please explain to me as we publish articles and ask a lot of questions, various members of staff from the county continue to leave?  Wait, don't tell me, it's all a coincidence right?)

I look forward to scheduling an appointment with you to discuss/tour Page Middle School if you have any further questions. In the event you choose to use my response in a sensational way on your blog, consider this our last correspondence. (Gee, what happened to the statement you made about transparency?  I would not call this a sensational use of your comments.  It is only fair that I show both sides of the story.  This statement shows that you were purposely trying to avoid having your ridiculous statements shown the light of day and that you are truly a pompous ass.  Does this mean you will now purposely hide facts from the public?  I guess this will not help your re election campaign?  Also, does this mean the offer for you giving us a tour is now off?  I really want to film that.  And one other area, you forgot to mention is that your invitation for response was in fact meant for the public to see on this site.  That has to hurt.)

Have a great day,
Charles Records
Vice Chairman
Gloucester County School Board

Thank you Charles for taking the time to address our concerns.  I am sorry if we do not agree on various areas.  Our concerns are the students and the parents.  I am not sure of yours however except to limit liability of the school which one could argue is looking out for the public's interest as it is the public that always pays for everything that government does whether it is right or wrong.  

One final area I would like to address is the 2 story open floor plan and how this is a huge waste of taxpayer money as it raises the heating and cooling costs exponentially.  With the federal and state government putting out a lot of pressure for going green to save energy costs and usage, how does this ridiculous design fit within a green environment?  Or is the government lying to us?  That would seem a fair question.  But I am sure someone has a spin for this to make it sound as though this design is in fact green.

That is a very large area to have to heat and cool.  That is also some very serious equipment outside to do such a job.  Gloucester County School Board.  Now you know.

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