by Aimee Levitt
Last week the Belleville News-Democrat reported that over the course of the last school year, more than $1 million worth of electronic equipment was stolen from East St. Louis schools. However, District 189 officials neglected to tell the BDN reporters about one relatively minor theft that has delayed the start of classes at Younge Middle School.
During one of the thefts last month, thieves gouged approximately $300 or $400 worth of copper and brass from two rooftop air-conditioners at Younge, rendering the units inoperable. Three weeks ago, school board member Carl Officer told the BDN, the board held an emergency meeting and agreed to allow Superintendent Theresa Saunders free reign to do whatever was necessary to get the air-conditioning ready for the first day of school.
When the board met with Saunders last Friday, Officer continued, Saunders had given no indication that the Younge's 550 students would not be able to start school at the same time as the rest of the kids in District 189. He found out with the rest of the world on Saturday, when Saunders sent out a press release announcing that while parts had been ordered, repairs had yet to be made.
Now it appears summer vacation for the middle-schoolers will last two weeks longer, until August 30.
"This is an outrage," Officer said. "There is no contingency plan. Nothing. We could have leased another building. They should have told us," said Officer, "This is disrespectful to teachers, administrators, and it's disrespectful to parents and the taxpayers."