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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Administration searching for solution to overcrowding

By Eli Mansbach and Josh Weinstock

For the past two years, Grady has held some of its engineering classes in the dance studio because there are no available rooms in the main buildings. Recently, there have been concerns that the dance studio may not fit the required dimensions set by Georgia and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. This dilemma is one example of the overcrowding problem that has plagued APS and Grady.

The Grady administration is looking into a solution to ameliorate overcrowding at Grady. The Local School Council believes a solution is needed because the campus presently is forced to resort to trailers, floating teachers and because the campus lacks the necessary classroom space for science labs and engineering classes. According to the LSC,  other solutions to the overcrowding problem that have been discussed are to renovate and repurpose the “new” gym or to renovate the “away” side of the stadium, which currently houses one of the offices of the APS Athletic Department.

Senior Khalid Ransome has two engineering classes, one of which is in the dance studio.

“You are supposed to have a lab with tools, and all that stuff that you need for doing shop work,” Ransome said. “You wouldn’t be able to have that in a small classroom like the sizes that we have. That’s why we need a lot more space than we have now.”

TWO’ S COMPANY, BUT 1500’S A CROWD: Students pass through the gates on their way out of the trailer area.
TWO’ S COMPANY, BUT 1500’S A CROWD: Students pass through the gates on their way out of the trailer area.

Ransome said the engineering class held in Jormell Cofield’s room on the fourth floor of the Charles Allen wing has been disruptive to other classes in the past.

“At the beginning of the year, Ms. Cofield’s class was doing a project where they had to make a catapult, and they had to go into the hallway to hammer the wood in,” Ransome said. “A lot of the teachers were complaining because it would echo down the halls and disturb their class.”

Engineering teacher Tracy Swift said she thinks the dance studio has a distracting effect on the students.

“I think mentally maybe the presence of the dance studio may have an effect on the students,” Swift said. “One student … said he didn’t like the mirrors. He didn’t like having that mental state of this being the dance studio.”

The triple threat and advanced musical theater classes would be taught in the dance studio if not for the engineering class. Roderick Pope teaches the theater classes that have been replaced.

“We got moved out of the dance studio two years ago so they could move in an engineering class, which is great and wonderful, and we need the engineering class,” Pope said. “However, those floors in the dance studio are specifically designed for ballet dancers so there is a cushion underneath the floor so that as ballet dancers land, they don’t destroy their feet.”

Pope said that the desks from the engineering classroom are destroying the ballet cushion under the floor and that the theater floor is not good for the dancers’ feet.

“We are having to dance on the stage, which has a concrete base, which means that dancers, while they can sustain that for a show, practicing on that floor is not good for their feet and can ruin their arches,” Pope said.

According to the Grady LSC minutes from last November, principal Vincent Murray mentioned that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools would soon be visiting Grady and SACS officials noted before that the “current location of the engineering classes was inadequate.” Murray also stated that “the school must move [the engineering classes] immediately. However, the building still needs a long-term facility for the engineering classes.”

The Grady campus also needs more labs so that all the science teachers have a lab of their own. One teacher who does not have a lab is Ben Sellers, who teaches astronomy and physical science.

“There are probably several demos that I have had to not do because I don’t have gas connections,” Sellers said. “I can’t do as many labs using chemicals because I don’t have water. Water is always necessary for eye wash and general rinsing up.”

Sellers also said that since he does not have a lab of his own, he has a schedule of other teachers’ planning periods. He can use one of their classrooms if necessary but has not done so all year. Though Sellers would like to have his own lab, he said that he understands the school’s space problems.

“Absolutely, I think it would be great [to have my own lab],” Sellers said. “But I also understand that Grady has space limitations, and the fact they have more science teachers than labs is a great thing in one regard because the alternative is fewer science teachers and larger classrooms, so it is the lesser of two evils in my opinion.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Local School Council was planning on sending a proposal to the APS Department of Facilities. If a proposal is sent to APS, it will be done by the Grady administration.

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  • S

    Sharon BrayFeb 25, 2014 at 7:11 am

    As the chair of the Grady LSC, I feel compelled to comment on some inaccuracies in this article, and its misleading headline. The LSC has not considered sending such a request, nor have we reached any conclusions about the necessity of such a wing or any other particular solution. My understanding is that the Grady administration has been having those discussions, and such a request, if made, would be sent from them.

    I believe the confusion may stem from the fact that in our meeting minutes, the Grady administration is referred to as “Grady’s leadership team” and perhaps the author of this article confused that with the leadership of the Local School Council. I will make sure the minutes are more clear in the future.

    The subject of engineering lab space has been discussed in several LSC meetings this year, and we are currently gathering information to better inform ourselves on this issue. We have urged our school’s administration to come up with a solution, both shortterm and longterm. However, what form those solutions take will ultimately come from the administration of our school, as they (Mr. Dawson in particular as the leader of the Bio-Medical Science and Engineering academy) have been the ones meeting with officials to determine what is mandated for such lab space. We as the LSC are simply an advisory board – our job is to bring parents and community members into the decision-making process but we do not make the decisions.

    We will be continuing our discussions of the lab space issue at our next meeting on Tuesday March 4th at 4:00 in the CCC, if any Southerner reporters would like to join us. You and other members of the community are welcome, as always!

    Mrs. Sharon Bray, chair
    Grady Local School Council

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Administration searching for solution to overcrowding