A group of Fort Lee High School students addressed the Fort Lee Board of Education Monday, urging school officials to address the rapidly deteriorating conditions in their school’s gymnasium and were assured that the problems are going to be addressed next summer.
“Our gym is a big liability,” said high school senior Danielle Elmers, one of the students who spoke at Monday’s BOE meeting. “The bleachers—we don’t have railings; we don’t have steps. Do you know how many people fall?”
To illustrate that point, she told school board members that if her grandparents were to come watch her play basketball, “they would struggle to get up the bleachers if they didn’t want to sit in the front row and risk getting hit by a stray basketball.”
One Fort Lee Patch blogger recently listed all the issues with the gym he believes need to be addressed, including what he called “the biggest problem”—the floor, and several members of the Fort Lee community agreed with him, judging by the many comments the blog post generated.
“When we go to other schools … their gyms are immaculate,” Danielle said told the board Monday. “And then you come to our gym; it’s dark, and it’s dreary; it needs to be redone.”
She added, “The gym is the face of our school. What are we portraying to [visitors]?”
Board president Yusang Park told the students that school officials already have a plan in place and money budgeted to give the gym a makeover.
“And as of next summer, it will be addressed,” Park said. “You will have a brand-new looking gym.”
Board secretary and business administrator Cheryl Balletto said the school district’s buildings and grounds crew reviewed the gym about a month-and-a-half ago, and that before the school year, money was put into the capital projects account, with the gym being “one of the highest priorities.”
“The budgets are always done in April so due to lead time to make sure we can get the bleachers in on time and all the equipment, we need enough time to be able to order that,” Balletto said. “This is one of the remaining projects that we had after the nine we had this summer. So we’re glad that you want it because it’s coming.”
Added Park, “In other words, you guys are going to get it, and it’s going to be beautiful.”