When the State of Arizona determined that Leupp School falls short of the mark when it comes to an adequate building for the 250 students who attend school there, it came as no surprise to Principal Louise Scott.
What it did come as a surprise, she said, is when the state decided that almost the entire school should be rebuilt.
“I thought we would only be eligible for deficiency correction funds,” she said. “But we did have our fingers crossed for a new building.”
Public school structures must meet certain criteria set up by the state’s School Facilities Board (SFB), which conducted two site visits in Leupp last October. The Leupp facility did not meet more than 65 percent of the established criteria and is therefore eligible for a new building.
Leupp School has long had its problems. The majority of the school is only temporary, with metal siding and inadequate heating and cooling systems. Much of the wiring in the building needs to be replaced, and the aging plumbing system causes frequent problems, said Scott.
“Last year we had to tear up the floor in the restroom. The plumbing is so old the pipes keep breaking,” she said.
Scott said that maintenance crews from Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD), of which Leupp School is a part, come every time the school calls for assistance, but no amount of repair ever seems to be enough.
“Every time it rains, we put out the buckets. The maintenance crews come and patch the roof. Then when it rains, we pull out the buckets again. It’s become clear that no amount of patching will solve this problem,” said Scott.
But spring winds pose even a greater problem to the school. “These portables are not sturdy, and when the wind blows we get dust through the walls. One day I had to have the children eat in their classrooms because the cafeteria was filled with red dust.”
And if the wind is strong enough, the walls seem to flap, she said. During a particularly strong wind last spring, Scott said she was concerned for the children’s safety and wanted to send them home.
Before SFB begins construction, they asked that Leupp School attain a 75-year lease from the Navajo Nation. The school’s lease is currently 25-years lease through the Navajo Nation. Scott said that the Leupp Chapter passed a resolution three weeks ago supporting the extended lease, which will now be processed in Window Rock. She said she is optimistic that the lease will be approved, since the Leupp community supports it.
Although the majority of the school will be replaced, the gymnasium—which currently doubles as a cafeteria—will remain. “If they tore that down as well, they would give us a smaller gym, so we want to keep it and reinforce the walls,” said Scott. The gym in the new school will only be used as such; a new, separate cafeteria will be built.
Scott said all the projects for FUSD, including the new Leupp School, are scheduled for completion in 2003.