Opinion
Education Opinion

Doors With No Locks—Locks With No Keys

By Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D. — October 02, 2007 2 min read

$368 per night. That’s what it costs to pay for two 8-hour shifts of a security guard’s vigilance in our empty school each night. If anyone reads the daily newspaper in New Orleans, one might think that the high level of crime we endure in the Crescent City requires a special need for security in our well-stocked schools. Actually, we do have more computers, calculators, projectors, etc. than we had before Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters washed everything away. But, no one has tried to break into the school to steal anything. In fact, lots of the houses in the Treme neighborhood around McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School are still empty, gutted, and in disrepair. People are still waiting for Road Home grants and SBA loans to fix their houses. We are paying for round-the-clock security because we can’t get a lock for the front door of the school. That’s right. We have paid thousands of dollars to a security company because we can’t get a $50 lock for the front door!

Our school is the first one that was opened by the state’s Recovery School District (RSD) and subsequently transitioned to a charter school. The transfer from one agency to another agency begs the question, “How Hard Can It Be?” The Lease Agreement requires a walk-through and an agreement on work that needs to be completed before the Treme Charter School Association (TCSA), our charter group, has full possession of the building. Repairs that would put the building into pre-Katrina condition are supposed to be completed by RSD or their hired hands.

Although our school has been open since August 13, 2007, we still don’t have a key to lock the front door of the building. No one can find it. Last year, all 20+ RSD-operated schools had 24-hour security, so I guess this dilemma is no big thing to some people. I could hire a cafeteria monitor for the whole year with the money we’re paying unnecessarily for overnight security.

Today, I told the Business Manager to look in the Yellow Pages of the phone book and find a locksmith. Craftsmen such as electricians, plumbers, and locksmiths charge very high prices in New Orleans these days. Until the Lease Agreement is processed we don’t have authority to change the locks. We’ll probably have to pay for this transgression because we are putting a lock on that door this week. But, if I’m going to pay an arm and a leg for anything, at least I’ll rest easy at night knowing that we are not throwing the public’s money away while we wait for our maintenance punch list. I’ve learned that it’s always easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission, anyway.

The opinions expressed in Starting Over: A Post-Katrina Education are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read