CJ Ferry has already filed a criminal complaint & been interviewed by WJAR Channel 10 News. Parents are beating down his doors & flooding his phone lines in support.
Greene School may already be over capacity
By Michael Holtzman
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Sep 08, 2008 @ 08:48 PM
Fall River – On the third day of school Monday, the guardian of a 6-year-old attending one of the newer city elementary schools, has complained to city and state officials that the school – and maybe three others opened this month – are over capacity.
Code Enforcement Director Joseph Bizsko also questioned if the William S. Greene School, rebuilt five years ago, can have the number of pupils Superintendent Nicholas A. Fischer says is allowed.
CJ Ferry, of 300 Buffington St., said he has complained to all three officials and filed a written complaint Monday with the state Board of Building Regulations and Standards.
“They’re 141 (students) above the school’s legal capacity,” he said.
Ferry, a Republican who last year ran for School Committee and City Council and currently seeks the state representative seat held by School Committee member Kevin Aguiar, said his complaint asks: “Are we going to be able to get 141 extra students out of that school safely?”
He bases that on school enrollments Friday at Greene (791 pupils), along with the three new schools: Carlton M. Viveiros (829), Mary Fonseca (690) and Alfred Letourneau, the latter school projecting 595 pupils on Aug. 12.
Higher enrollments have been expected since the School Department closed 12 elementary schools this fall.
On March 31, Bizsko’s building inspection office listed Green’s capacity at 650 – 141 fewer than the 791 Ferry reported – and a March 12 enrollment of 618.
Fischer said the school has a capacity of 1,050, based upon 30 children for each of the 35 classrooms and upon the “architectural design.” He said the design is based upon building specifications that are based upon fire code requirements.
“I would not put more students in the building than what the architectural drawings says is safe,” Fischer said.
Bizsko reacted with surprise to Fischer’s figures.
“Somebody should have called us before they transferred all these kids,” he said.
He said school capacity specifications include the size of exit doors and widths of aisles. “You can’t just go by square footage of rooms. What good is having 1,000 people if the means of egress can only handle 650?”
Of the 650 on the Greene certificate, he said, “There’s a discrepancy, and we’re looking into it.”
Ferry was not alone decrying perceived overcrowding at Greene, questioning if that’s the case at the three new schools.
“They didn’t let the kids out until the parents cooperated and cleared a path so the kids could come out,” Gilda DaCosta said after picking up her second-grade daughter Thursday, the first day of school.
“Last year was so much better. This was very overwhelming,” she said, noting that unlike new school parents she’s had three years of familiarity at Greene.
“They closed too many schools at the same time,” Connie Cabral, mother of a Greene second-grader said. She also called the school pickup “overwhelming.”
“They knew prior to opening of these schools,” Ferry said, “the numbers were over capacity.”