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Woodson School Shutting Down Early Friday as Problems Persist

Oct. 30, 2008 — Problems continue to plague the John H. Woodson Junior High School, prompting Education Commissioner La Verne Terry to dismiss classes there at 1 p.m. Friday.
Terry made the decision because of "poor ventilation in several classrooms" resulting in "very warm and humid temperatures during the afternoon hours," according to a statement issued Thursday afternoon by the Education Department.
Teachers staged a walkout Thursday to protest conditions at the school, according to radio news reports. Terry met with school officials and American Federation of Teachers Local 1826 President Tyrone Molyneaux "to provide guidance on steps that are being undertaken to address the areas of concern," the release said, indicating that "effects of Hurricane Omar … have further delayed the timetable on taking corrective action on certain issues."
In September, while making an assessment during the first days of the new school year, Terry acknowledged that problems still plague Woodson despite routine summer maintenance work.
Woodson teachers staged a protest then, as well, refusing to report to their classes until several issues were addressed, including excessive heat in the classrooms. Teachers asked the administration to begin scheduled air-conditioning installation for 47 classrooms. To appease the teachers, 104 fans were bought for the classrooms and the gymnasium. Public Works was slated to begin work on windows and air conditioning.
Public Works Commissioner Darrel Smalls met with Woodson teachers Wednesday "to present a plan of action to address the long-standing issues," the release said.
Public Works crews will be on the campus over the weekend to install exhaust fans in the classrooms of the Woodson Junior High School, Smalls said in the release.
"The fans will extract the warm air from the classrooms where the ventilation is poor," the release said. "In addition, ground crews will be at the school to tidy the campus and address problem areas in some sections of the Woodson Junior High School campus."
In February 2006, former Education Commissioner Noreen Michael announced Woodson's closure for the entire school year due to a mold problem that had permeated the campus. Students attended the Elena Christian Junior High School, forcing double sessions from September to June 2006.
The school reopened in August 2006 and education officials lauded the newly reconstructed facility, where air-conditioning ducts were replaced, mold was eradicated and other improvements were completed.
Education officials did not indicate whether classes would resume Monday at the school.
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