Parents, students complain about leaky Lacomb School roof

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

Parents and children complained to the Lebanon School Board March 9 about the failing roofs at Lacomb school.
Melissa Baurer spoke at the board’s monthly meeting on behalf of concerned parents in the Lacomb school district, stating they could remember four years ago when their children came home and talked about water dripping from buckets in their classes.
The roof at the school has not been updated since the building was built in 1963, she said.
“The leaders of Lebanon Community Schools should’ve been prepared for this roof need and made the necessary plans to make sure it was replaced,” she said. “Lacomb should’ve been a priority.”
Baurer said the appearance of a ceiling that is about to collapse causes fear and anxiety in the children, and is not conducive to a good learning environment. Teachers have even created a drill for if the ceiling collapses.
“Kids have water dripping on them when new leaks come through,” she said. “Teachers are finding themselves moving desks forward and putting out more five gallon buckets.”
The water mixed with lighting fixtures presents a fire hazard, mildew is visible and the smell of a room is musty, she said. As such, basic needs of security and safety are not being met and the kids are not thriving there.
Baurer invited the board to tour the school and work there for the day so they could experience what it’s like to work in such an environment. She asked for a written plan to fix the problem and have it solved by the start of the next school year.
Students Carly Lehman and Quinlyn Sciscioli also approached the board to describe the conditions at their school.
Carly described the water spots on the ceilings, the falling panels and the seven buckets that are often filled halfway with water by the end of the day. When yellow water drips on them, they have to move their desks and it causes them to lose their concentration, she said. Also, computers and school projects get ruined by the dripping water.
Quinlyn talked about the anxiety they feel under those conditions. She questioned what they should do if a ceiling were to collapse on them, and said the tapping noise of the dripping water makes it hard to concentrate on school work. Though her class was recently moved to a different room, she still expressed concern for the rest of the student body.
Supt. Jennifer Meckley, who has served as principal at Lacomb, said she toured the school recently and indicated the district has been aware of the roof problem for some time now. A bond, denied by voters in November, was intended to be used to repair that roof.
“It’s No. 1 to get fixed when we have the funds to do it,” she said.
On a good note, the district has found a way to set money aside to tackle that project, Meckley said. She can’t promise it will be worked on this summer, though.
Board Chair Tom Oliver added that funding from the state is not enough to cover maintenance costs like that, so there needs to be an additional source of revenue, usually found through levies.
Parent Andra Salmon also addressed the board with a different concern. She said her daughter is currently transitioning back to her original gender after transitioning to a male during high school.
“She was probably one of the first transgender children in the school district,” Salmon said.
Her daughter, who is now 27 years old, had a double mastectomy and hormone replacement to become male. While Salmon supported her daughter during that time, the two are now having to “deal with” the choices they made during that time.
“She’s now having to live with what I allowed or what I participated in,” she said.
Salmon’s point was made when she asked the district to not participate in encouraging transgender changes.
“Allow them to go through school first,” she said. “If they’re gonna do this, allow them to go to school. Don’t participate in this stuff, because it is really hard on kids.”
She also talked about the Critical Race Theory being taught in schools. Salmon said her grandson (in a different school district), who is one-quarter African American but looks white, is recognizing that he is being treated differently than his father who is half African American.
She tried to clarify her statement by indicating that white people used to be treated better because they were white, but the roles have now changed so that African American people are treated better than white people.
“He’s three-quarters white, but because he looks different he’s going to be treated different,” she said about her grandson. “It’s going to affect how his relationship is with his dad, with everyone.”
Salmon asked the board to consider these things.
“When you have a child that says, ‘I don’t feel good in this body,’ let them go through life first. Let them go through high school. Don’t try to mess with their hormones. Don’t do all that anymore, please. My daughter went through it and she’s having a hard time now.”
Kayla Natter and Lauren Dennin presented a report by the Associated Student Body at Lebanon High School.
The girls said it’s been a great year since they’ve been able to bring back old traditions, such as pep rallies, which were halted for a time due to COVID. They lauded the JROTC rifle team’s fifth recognition as national champions, FFA state fair participation, farm business management competitions, cheer team’s state win and other recognitions.

In other business, the board:
♦ Approved a contract for Meckley as superintendent running to the end of the 2023-24 school year, at which point she may return as assistant superintendent or may be under review to continue on as superintendent;
♦ Heard a report by Meckley on high school data. During the 2019 school year, 21% of students in Algebra 1 failed. Since that time, math teacher Tracie Davenport has worked to adopt a new curriculum and restructure the math classes, and the result returned a 7% failure rate.
Negative behaviors at the high school have dropped since last year, she said, with the exception of defiance of authority, disorderly or disruptive behavior, and disrespectful behavior, which have seen a significant spike;
♦ Heard a presentation by Meckley about the new “integrated guidance” system, to which the board must give approval so the district can receive grant funding from the state.
There are six programs integrated into one program to streamline the application process for the funding: High School Success, for improving graduation rates and college/career readiness; Student Investment Account, for meeting mental health, behavioral needs and increasing academic achievement; Continuous Improvement Planning, for educator collaboration and data analysis; Career and Technical Education, for education and training programs; Every Day Matters, for student engagement and school culture; and Early Indicator Intervention Systems, for data collection and analysis to identify supports for students;
♦ Approved recommendations for renewal and non-renewal of teachers and administrators;
♦ Approved the calendar for the next school year.