San Elijo parents request school lockers
SAN MARCOS — For some parents at San Elijo Middle School, finding ways to lighten the load students carry on a daily basis has become a top priority. But their requests for lockers continue to be denied.
“It’s a major problem,” said parent Mary Spinos, who has a daughter in sixth grade at the school. “The books are heavy and the stairs are steep.”
Spinos said many parents who have children attending the two-story middle school, which caters to students in grades six through eight, have asked officials to consider giving students lockers to keep their textbooks in, but have been told security reasons will keep that from ever happening.
“They say drugs and weapons are a major concern,” said Spinos. “But my concern is my daughter is only 11 and already wants to go to see a chiropractor.”
Spinos said she recently was told by officials she would have to buy a second pair of books totaling $300 for her daughter to keep at home.
“Not every parent can buy their kids a second pair of books,” said Spinos. “I feel this is going to cause a lot of problems in the future for these kids.”
On Monday, officials said there has never been a plan to install lockers at the school, which opened in 2004, or the other two middle schools in the district, Woodland Park and San Marcos.
Lockers have been kept out of the district’s schools because of both security concerns and the high cost of maintaining them, said Jim Poltl, executive director of maintenance, operations and transportation for the district.
“Figuring out a place to put them and to protect them presents an interesting challenge,” said Poltl.
Currently, the only school in the district where lockers are offered to students is San Marcos High, which has kept the ones that were built-in with the school in 1960.
Poltl added that lockers have not been a priority for district officials because the district’s growing student enrollment makes it nearly impossible to ensure all students will have access to a locker.
Parent Brandy Speer said she is among the many parents who will continue to raise concerns about the locker issue at the San Elijo campus.
Speer said she was not pleased when school officials asked her to buy a second pair of books to address concerns about her daughter’s daily heavy load.
“It’s the most absurd thing I have ever heard of,” said Speer, who has recently been consulting with a chiropractor regarding her daughter. “They need to either put lockers in or give parents a free second set of books.”
Others, like parent Tiffany Sauter, said because there are no lockers she has had to find ways to make the daily load lighter for her daughter, who suffered a recent neck injury, she said.
“She hates carrying 20 pounds of books around,” said Sauter. “It would be the best thing to have lockers.”
Parent Rhonda Anderberg said at the beginning of the school year she weighed her daughter along with her backpack filled with the required three spiral notebooks, binder and two of her four textbooks. Anderberg said she became alarmed when she saw the load was 24 percent of her daughter’s body weight.
Anderberg said she took her concerns to teachers who gave her the option of keeping her books at the school, but stressed that it would be her responsibility to pay should the books be stolen or damaged.
“The district needs to allocate their money in a better way,” said Anderberg. “We pay a lot of taxes, we should not have to pay for another pair of textbooks if the kids can’t have lockers.”