Teachers and parents from Surrattsville Senior High School in Clinton accused the Prince George's County school board Monday night of inaction and incompetence in implementing long-planned renovations and correcting fire-code violations.
Although Superintendent Edward J. Feeney has appealed a state decision to delay funding for Surrattsville renovations until the 1984 financial year, parents and teachers at the school blamed the board and school administration for creating the problem in the first place, and are worried that this delay will be followed by more.
PTSA president Norma Raffaele told the school board that "we desperately need increased space for our guidance department, media center, administrative offices, and locker and shower spaces. Our one gym at least needs renovation."
She also cited fire-code violations that earned Surrattsville a "fair" rating by the fire department -- the lowest rating received by a county school -- in January 1980. These include lack of emergency lighting, poor ventilation, combustible tile on classroom and hallway ceilings, and open stairways, Raffaele said. She said none of these problems has been corrected.
"We don't believe the board has given us the support we need," she said before the meeting. "They have given us a lot of lip service, and now we're facing another delay."
Cecelia R. Smith, a social studies and home economics teacher at the school, accused the board of repeatedly saying one thing and doing another.
"Promises are cheap," she said. "We do not want more, just equal treatment. Our community is very involved with the school. As one who works in the facility, and who is able to see other facilities, it turns my stomach to see the lack of concern for this school shown by this board." She accused board members of having "tunnel vision."
From 1973 to 1978, the county schools' Construction Improvement Plan contained renovation and addition projects for Surrattsville, but funds were never approved. In 1978, the Surrattsville Facilities Committee, formed by the PTSA in response to these delays, filed a formal request for renovation.
Since then, plans for renovating the school, built in 1958, have never gone further than the state Interagency Committee (IAC), which must approve major school construction, nearly all of which is paid for by the state.
Last month the IAC denied funds for renovations, and the school system lost an appeal against the decision. Since then, money for preliminary planning has been granted, but in November the IAC recommended once again that funding for the renovation itself be delayed for a year.
County school officials were pleased that the IAC at least gave them money for projects at Frederick Douglass and Suitland high schools, which were first and second on the schools' priority list. Surrattsville was third.
PTSA members charge that the delay is the fault of county school officials. Raffaele says that from May to October this year, approval for planning and design was held up because the IAC rejected the school system's projected enrollment of 1,325. In October, the schools reduced that figure to 1,125 -- a figure the PTSA maintained was the right one to work with all along -- and planning was approved.
Assistant Superintendent Edward M. Felegy said the high figure was used because the school system considers the "optimum size" of a high school to be between 1,200 and 1,800 students. While the administration also predicted smaller enrollment, he said, "we were thinking of the year 2000 and beyond."
In the end, Felegy said, the local school administrators had to agree with the IAC that projections, even up to 1991, "still cannot come up with 1,200 students."
Raffaele also accuses school officials of giving incorrect classroom figures to the IAC, which slowed the process. She said the school has 45 regular classrooms, a multipurpose room, a media center and a gymnasium -- a total of 48 classrooms. But county school officials, she said, had used plans describing 49 classrooms and two gymnasiums, giving the IAC the impression that the school was larger than it is. This made it harder to justify the need for enlarged facilities, Raffaele said.
But Felegy and schools construction director Roy I. Parker denied the charge. Felegy said plans submitted to the IAC showed 47 regular classrooms and two "gym teaching stations." Schools spokesman Brian J. Porter said figures used by Felegy are correct.