FYI: Sen. Liston A. Davis Tours Schools

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Senator Liston A. Davis, chairman of the Legislature's Committee on Education, Culture and Youth, Friday (2-4-05) continued his series of fact-finding tours of the Territory's public schools by visiting the Peace Corps and E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary Schools on St. Thomas.
Senator Davis met Principal Lydia Lettsome, Assistant Principal Marion Lynch Esannason and Maintenance Supervisor Olan Pratt at Peace Corps Elementary where Senator Davis immediately detected a foul odor coming from a nearby septic tank.
Assistant Principal Esannason indicated that the school has been plagued by the odor for over two years. Esannason told Senator Davis that the school has only one custodial worker, and the company contracted to provide cleaning services only cleans classrooms, leaving the halls and other areas unattended.
Principal Lettsome told the Education Committee Chairman that the primary problem is leakage from the roof when it rains, especially in the lunchroom. Lettsome added that the roof has no down spouting to catch water in the cistern when it rains, forcing the school to truck in water for the school daily.
Lettsome informed Senator Davis that one of her concerns was not having an indoor facility like an auditorium to hold all the students at a given time for school events.
Maintenance Supervisor Pratt added that the shipped water was also necessary to keep the last water pump working. Pratt showed Senator Davis an area behind the school where water from a nearby spring has settled and breeding mosquitoes.
Senator Davis suggested that the Department of Education should "tap" the spring and place injectors to treat the water, thereby eliminating the need to truck water everyday.
Senator Davis then visited the E. Benjamin Oliver School where he met Principal Felix Durant. Principal Durant pointed out an area where a portable water line busted and spills water at the entrance of the school.
Durant told Senator Davis that because none of the six water pumps are working, and have no compressors, the school uses only portable water. Principal Durant also indicated that the roof's spouting is completely clogged causing leakage throughout the whole school, especially in the cafeteria.
One of the teachers told Senator Davis that some extermination services are needed because there are so many rats in the school that children keep their feet off the ground to avoid being touched by them.
Responding to Senator Davis on the issue of security, Principal Durant stated that four security cameras were installed without a recording system, and the fencing around the school is inadequate to keep people from entering or leaving the school. Durant also noted that the fire alarm system is not working.
Durant told Senator Davis that the school desperately needs a handy man and a groundskeeper.
Senator Davis again informed the principals that he intends to bring forward his findings during public hearings with Administration officials tentatively scheduled for February 22, 2005 on St. Thomas.

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