Showing posts with label Middle School. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Middle School. Show all posts

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gloucester, VA: Can We Trust The School Board? Failed Utopia

Can we trust the school board?  You may need to watch this video several times over and really listen to what John Hutchinson is actually saying and not what you may think he may be saying because when you first hear him you are likely to get the wrong message.  John Hutchinson appears to be addressing the issue of a Homeland Security audit.  On the one had he is.  On the other hand, it's not anywhere near as comprehensive as you may have been led to believe.  It's a very clever tactic used to send you the wrong information and making you think that the School Board has done everything in their power to ensure the safety of the students, teachers and staff.  We are going to show you that this may not be the case and give you the proper tools to figure it out for yourself.  Let's start with a video on body language.

Now let's go back to the joint meeting between the school board and the board of supervisors.  Let's discuss John Hutchinson's location of his hands when he was talking about the Homeland Security evaluation.  His one hand was in his pocket.  If you will also look again at how his head was dodging back and forth, he did not appear to be actually looking at anyone but instead below the level of anyone before him.  What did you just see in the video here on body language?  I am not suggesting he was lying.  I am suggesting that he may have been trying to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone listening.  Again, listen to what John Hutchinson says.  The security evaluation was a transportation evaluation.

  That means John Hutchinson was talking about the security for the bus system where Gloucester received high marks and why John did not want to get into specifics is because that would have revealed the slight of hand he just pulled in our opinion.  That is a trust issue.

  So does Page Middle school meet Homeland Security guidelines for safety?  Is there such a thing as guidelines for safety from Homeland Security?  Yes there are actual guidelines for safety and we have those guidelines and we are going to share them with everyone here reading this.  You can make up your own mind after doing the proper research whether or not the school board has done due diligence in ensuring the safety of the students.  The guidelines are 317 pages long and very comprehensive and well done.  It's a very impressive document.  At the end of the book is a checklist that you can take with you and conduct your own evaluation.  What we see is failure after failure after failure here to meet most of those guidelines.

  What will they argue back on this?  The Homeland Security guidelines are just that.  Guidelines.  As we understand how the federal government works, if they are mandatory, then the federal government would have to fund each project.  So guidelines are setup instead allowing states and localities to determine what the priorities should be.

Homeland Security Building Recommendations 

So above is the Homeland Security guidelines for schools.  Look through it and learn what those guidelines are and then take a copy of the checklist to Page Middle school and see how it stacks up.  We can tell you that one local resident pounded on the school board about these issues and even provided the school board with the exact information above before Page Middle school was constructed.  The School Board ignored these recommendations and that you can easily prove to yourself.

  To make it easier for you we have made a separate checklist that you can download for free from our slideshare site.  It's the same checklist as in the above Homeland Security book we just made it easier to print out for you because we want you to see all of this for yourself.

Homeland Security Building Design Recommendations Checklist 

We apologize for the annoying auto play of the Bos, School Board, meeting video as it is out of our control and the default option from the county that can not be changed even though it shows as an option.  We did not choose the auto play option which means it's supposed to be off.  Technical difficulties the county needs to address.  This is only one area in that video from the BoS/School Board where we have a lot of issues.  More stories coming very soon.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Page Middle School Designed Backward

Charles Records Recent Statement To Us:  " I am a Professional Engineer and Gloucester County Public Schools has employeed dozens of other Professional Engineers, licensed by theCommonwealth 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."

I am not sure if Charles Records was taking responsibility with the above statement but either way I find it funny as all get out and I am going to explain why in this article.  The school was designed backward from everything we are looking at.  Let me explain this in detail here and show some more serious issues because of this backward design.

  From what we remember of the information about the design of this school Dr Ben Kiser traveled to Finland where he did some studies of their school designs and was apparently so impressed for some reason he wanted to build the same type of school here.  So what we need to do is actually look at the reason why anyone would want to copy FInland's model, especially when you take into consideration that Finland is a very cold country.  Much colder there than it gets here.  Summers as I understand it get into the 70's.

  But there like here, winter months have much shorter days than summer does.  So the objective is to maximize sunlight for several reasons.  One of many reasons for maximizing sunlight is for mental health.  Depression due to a lack of sunlight is a common issue in Finland.  It is not as bad here but has merit all the same.  The other is energy savings.  By maximizing sunlight, you can cut back on heating costs.  Heating is not as expensive as cooling.

  So how do you maximize sunlight?  You build your structures with a lot of glass.  You want that glass on the southern side to capture the maximum amount of sunlight as possible throughout the day.  Where is the majority of the glass in Page Middle School?  It's ............ on the northern and eastern side of the building.   It minimizes the amount of sunlight, not maximizes it.  Just like seen in the picture above.  The picture above was taken at about 3:00 PM in the beginning of September the 3rd to be exact.  Now come December through March, where we have the shortest days of the year, this is going to be a dark area instead of filled with light the way they are built in Finland.

  In Finland, during the warm months, their structures have canopies or awnings to block excessive sunlight from coming in to minimize their cooling expenses.  Page Middle School lacks these awnings, but since the glass is on the northern side, it does not need them as it is not maximizing the sunlight.  So what we are now doing is trying to heat and cool a structure that maximizes expenses and minimizes savings when it should be doing just the opposite.

  This creates a number of other issues that equally maximizes our expenses and minimizes savings.  As we already pointed out the maximum amount of sunlight is on the southern side of a structure.  The northern side has the least amount of sunlight coming in.  Again what does that mean?  With Page being over 2 stories high, shadows are maximized on the northern side of the building.  So what?  During the cold months the courtyards in the back of the school as well as the parking lot where the buses come and go is getting the least amount of sunlight which means it gets the maximum amount of freezing time.

  When little Johnny and Sally are getting off the buses or on the buses, this is the area with the maximum amount of frozen ground and potential ice problems.  The front of Page which gets the maximum amount of southern sun will be the safest areas to walk.  But that is not where the majority of the students will be coming and going.  The majority will be subject to the worst areas of the property.  This also means that the school board will have to use more chemicals to keep the areas free of ice and snow.  Anyone know what those chemicals do to concrete and asphalt?  It deteriorates them at a very accelerated rate.

Again as seen in the above picture, the maximum amount of sun is not being produced as the design is backward.  This is the northern side of Page Middle School.  Picture taken from the second floor looking out into one of the courtyards.

  During the short months, this will be the shadow view of about 11:00 AM.  The glass on that back north western corner is just not producing any sunlight at all for the open design.  Instead it maximizes cold which maximizes costs and minimizes comfort of the students, teachers, and staff as well as minimizes savings.

And the lack of a drop ceiling is yet another question as to why anyone would want this?  The purpose of a drop ceiling is to minimize heating and cooling expenses.  Instead we have wide open ceilings that maximizes costs and sacrifices comfort for everyone.  Is it more appealing?  That is up to the individual to consider.

The mantra we keep hearing from the school board is that it is now all water under the bridge and we need to be proud of this new school.  The more we continue to look at it the more we see it as the "THE GREAT MONUMENT TO STUPIDITY."

  Now if Charles Records has a reason why the design of the school is the way it is and how it is saving us money instead of costing us more money than it should we would love to hear it and we will be happy to publish it.   To us it looks like it was designed backward which is costing us all a lot more than it should at so many levels.  We look forward to hearing from Charles Records on this or anyone else who has sound reasons for this design.

  Let us make one thing very clear.  As far as construction goes we have no issues with what we have seen so far.  From the looks of it, Oyster Point Construction Company, did an outstanding job with the designs they had to work with.  They should be commended for the quality of the work.  We are not questioning any area of the construction.  We are questioning a great deal of the design work.  We do not doubt that safety was taken into consideration as far as implementing the design work.  It's the many areas where the design simply is not appropriate for a Middle School and its students, teachers and staff, or where costs are concerned and we have seen a number of areas where there are, in our opinion, final design flaws that need to be addressed right away with some we have only reported to county authorities.  And with that said, this is why we call Page Middle School, The Great Monument To Stupidity.

  We are nowhere near done with our reports on issues we see and keep hearing about regarding Page Middle School.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Gloucester School Board Upset Over Safety Concerns of Page Middle School

There are a number of people on the Gloucester County School Board whom are upset with the safety concerns we have raised and seem to think that the new school does not have any of the safety issues we have raised.  In a few areas they are correct.  For one, we were not made aware of the safety bars on the gates in the back.  When we walked through the area, gates that were closed were locked.  One was open that we went through.  We did not give it a thorough inspection to see how they actually worked.

Most people seem to think that not one student would ever think of trying to climb the fences in the back of the building.  Well we hope not.  They are designed to make it extremely difficult to consider climbing.  Trees are also not where one wants their children, preteens, teenagers, offspring, to be but many parents have found them in the trees anyway.

  The good news for everyone is that these gates do open from the inside using a push bar.  So they will not get trapped in the courtyards if there is ever a fire.

  To address the issue of how does the school get the handicapped students out of the building especially if they are on the second floor?  Troy Anderson made sure I received the below picture.

Troy explained that there are 4 of these stationed at each stairwell and at the media center.  I asked how many handicapped students the school has but did not receive an answer.  I wanted to know if 4 was enough.  Also, I want to know exactly how these are used.  No answer.  I have more questions regarding these.  
If there are more than 4 handicapped students at the school and should a real emergency ever occur, then who makes the decision who goes first?  What are the plans if these have to be used?  Will the students go down one side of the staircase while this is being used on the other side of the staircase?  From the picture shown on the Stryker, how will the person handling it maintain their own balance?

  Have any of the teachers been trained to use any of these?  Are certain teachers selected as primary handlers of these units?  Are there backup or secondary teachers who will take over the job should the primary teachers be unavailable?  Are there plans for drills utilizing these units?  

  We plan on getting the answers to these questions and we will publish that information as soon as we get it.  

  What still bothers us is the rails on the second floor and that stupid open floor plan.  I will say that aesthetically it looks nice but there are reasons schools were not built like this in the past.  It's not that it was "not" thought about it was considered dangerous for many reasons.  Our initial post we thought the rails were about 36 inches.  After looking at a picture taken but not posted we recalculated and estimated about 40 inches.  Charles Records informed us that they are 42 inches.  So that is 3 and a half feet tall.  I don't care if they are 6 feet tall.  In a Middle School my opinion is that they are very dangerous.  If you can throw a heavy bookbag over the top then whomever might be below can be very seriously hurt or worse.

  But there are some people who honestly think this would never happen.  I don't think accidents will ever happen but life likes to prove me wrong all the time.  Folks on the school board think that this is just some reason to complain for fun.  One of the students in this school is one of my own children.  My concern is the safety of not only my own, but everyone.  This school is a monument to stupidity.

Big Brother Is Watching:

Sold to you as, "for the safety of the students and teachers", these cameras have been mounted all over the place to make sure we have a record of anything that may occur.  If they are not doing anything wrong, then they have nothing to worry about.  On the other side of this coin, I want internet access to these cameras 24/7.  These cameras need to be in all the classrooms, teachers lounges, the Principle and Vice Principles offices, the cafeteria, break rooms, the kitchen, the gym and the workout room, and all back work rooms and storage.  They should also have full audio.

  In the event that certain teachers or the Principle and or Vice Principle have private meetings with parents then there should be a privacy mute option at that point for the audio only.  Again all cameras should be internet accessible for the entire Gloucester County public.  Now if they want to argue the privacy concerns, all I have to say is that if they are not doing anything wrong then there should not be any issues.  Also, if the School Board wants to argue the costs well all I have to say is they did not argue the costs for when they put these in.  Also were any of the public asked about whether or not we wanted these?  No?

  This is 1984 Orwellian despotism and not Constitutional Government.  No one needs to be spied on under the guise of safety.  But of course unless you are seeking to control the students in a quasi militant manner removing their self respect and dignity then this is the way to go about it.  Quash their individuality and turn them into machines that simply obey.  Then you have machines ready to work in the new progressive workforce where questions are never asked and assignments are happily accepted and acted upon.  One can learn to be happy in their new slavery.

The folks at the School Board want to sell you on their concept that the new Page Middle School is something to be proud of.  In my own opinion it is appalling on so many levels.  Aesthetically pleasing to the eye, yes, in some cases but that does not make it safe or sound.  These are my questions, opinions and or concerns and not everyone is going to share and or agree with them and that is fine.  That is part of what makes life more interesting.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Page Middle School Now Open With More Issues

It's an interesting building that there is no question about.  Some issues experienced yesterday with the new school include problems with the phone lines as well as problems with the Internet.  Not a big deal especially being a new school and not having much time to work out all the bugs.

  One area that begs to question is why isn't the cafeteria not yet functional?  And why did the school board order pizza's for the school children instead of having the food made at other area schools and bringing it into this school?  It would seem logical to have gone that route as opposed to ordering pizza.  What an order some business received over this.

We did a bit more checking and the rail on the second floor is probably 40 inches high as it should be.  A number of readers think that nothing will ever get thrown over that rail for any reason and that to think so otherwise is foolish.  It is their belief that every child is raised by parents who are very diligent in teaching their children between right and wrong.  I hope they are correct but a walk through any store suggests otherwise.  To think that every child, preteen, and teenager has been brought up to the highest standards of society is rather foolish.

  I have no wish for seeing any form of even mild mischief to take place yet to think it will not happen and that teachers will surely prevent such at every moment of everyday again is wishful thinking at best.  It is not only my opinion but also the opinion of others that designs throughout this structure are considered potentially dangerous.

How many teachers are out in this hall all day to make sure there are no issues and how is that cost effective when it comes to staffing?

Now a question about open design.  People are complaining that I would even complain about the waste of space this open design creates.  I am not the only one saying this.  This is also coming from an engineer as well as people that have been involved in constructing schools.  It's a heating and cooling nightmare for one.  Those claiming that open design is not an issue have not had to deal with the problems of heating and cooling such a structure.

So the above picture that shows two stories of open window space is needed for educational purposes?  I have no issues with the windows for each floor being the way they are, but how many classes could have been built in here that are now wasted?

Now the classrooms are nice looking.  What I have to wonder about is the windows as large as they are affecting the learning process.  The reason for the question is that anyone walking through the hall could very well be a distraction to the class or some in a class.

  The reason you have not seen these types of designs in schools in the past is because designers knew and understood these issues.  Today though it has become very unfashionable to ever question those in charge.  We should just accept what those in charge do.  If there is an issue then you blame the parents for not teaching their children, kids, preteens, teenagers, or whatever anyone wants to call their offspring these days, for not teaching them how to maintain the highest standards of society.

The lunchroom or cafeteria from another angle.  Open floor plan.  

The cafeteria food serving section is nice looking.  Hope it's up and running soon.  If you are just looking at the aesthetics of the overall design it is nice looking.  Modern, simple, and clean.  If you are looking at it from a liability standpoint, it is fraught with a host of "potential" issues.  Potential is the key word here.  Most people are not looking at the potential issues.  Those that are have been fast to discredit our initial post about this school and it's overall design because of the liability issues being faced.  The rail height on the second floor as seen in the above picture were brought up during construction but were blown off.  If something heavy gets thrown off that area or falls by some weird accident anyone below could be seriously hurt.  This is why schools in the past were not designed like this.  


     A number of people do not consider the fencing around the back of the building to be an issue.  Will the children, preteens, teenagers, or your offspring not try and climb these fences?  The design is against climbing them.  If you are foolish enough to try and climb over one you will probably get hurt.  It is designed to keep people out that have no business being there.  The fences meet construction standards and are upper end fences.  No question.  But again you have to be foolish enough to think that every child, preteen, teenager, offspring, have all been brought up in households where the highest standards of society have been instilled in them and that they all follow those standards to the hilt at all times with no question.

     We have invited Charles Records to write a letter to dispel the posts here.  He has invited members of the public to tour the school so that he could dispel what has been posted.  We await his reply and will bring that to you if he does respond.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Waterline At Page Middle School: Disaster Waiting To Happen Here Too?

The new 16” waterline extending along T.C. Walker Road and installed as part of constructing Page Middle School, does not seem to have been installed in the proper location. Apparently when VDOT required changes to design drawings for improvements of the T.C. Walker Road and Route 17 intersection, those changes were not incorporated into the civil site and utility drawings. This failure has resulted in the 16” waterline now being located in the very bottom of the VDOT drainage ditch.
As the story goes; the contractor installed the waterline and then began constructing the drainage ditch. As they constructed the ditch they discovered they removed most of the dirt above the waterline. Instead of removing the waterline and reinstalling it in the correct location when the error was discovered, they excavated along side of and under the waterline, removing the stone bedding and dirt from under the pipe while it was still put together. 

Once the stone and dirt are removed from under the waterline it will sag downward. The more it is forced to sag, the more each connection joint in the line separates. This is a dangerous and unacceptable method of lowering a waterline that operates under pressure. The reliability of the gaskets used to seal each joint and the chances of every joint being completely home (fitted all the way together) become compromised when manipulated in such a manner. 

The required stone bedding under the pipe is also compromised and often completely ignored when utilizing such method. Another reason to avoid such method of adjusting waterline depth is it rarely results in achieving the required depth. A significant section of the new waterline does not come close to having the required amount of cover. On August 20, 2015 I used a four foot long probe rod to determine the amount of cover over the waterline and discovered areas with less than two feet of cover. The minimum cover requirement is generally three feet. The main reasons for minimum cover requirements are to protect the waterline from freezing and to limit pipe movement, thus preventing the pipe from blowing apart under pressure. The close proximity of the waterline to the water tower that supplies it, the fact that the pipe dead ends so close to the incorrectly covered pipe and that flow through the pipe will basically cease daily during each day’s coldest periods, during weekends and during other times the school is closed during winter months, are all very good reasons for not accepting the waterline in it’s current condition. The waterline in its current condition will also increase the chance of VDOT damaging it during ditch maintenance.

 If VDOT should damage the line, they will be exempt from responsibility as prescribed by the Code of Virginia and all liability will fall on Gloucester taxpayers. If, for any reason, the waterline blows apart so close to the water tower supplying it, the results would be catastrophic; most likely resulting in a significant portion of T.C. Walker Road and the entrance to Page being washed away before the water could be turned off. Page would be closed until water could be restored and the road and entrance repaired. In this scenario Gloucester taxpayers will also assume liability.
I know everyone wants the new school opened as currently scheduled, but this serious issue should not be ignored or dismissed for the sake of opening on time. It should also not be dismissed to save a buck, no matter whose buck it is.
Respectfully and just my 2 cents worth,
Kenneth E. Hogge, Sr.

The two above pictures shows where we were out measuring where and how deep the waterline is buried by Page Middle School.  

Mr. Hogge,

Schools and the Contractor are very well aware of the waterline issue and have committed to making the needed repairs during the Winter Break in December. Not only has the Contractor’s President issued a guarantee to the County for the repair, but we also continue to hold a performance bond on the Contractor to ensure the repairs are made to satisfaction. Public Utilities is aware of the Contractors commitment and finds the repair strategy to be acceptable.

Thank you for your support. Have a nice day.

John E.Hutchinson