Tour shows off crumbling school

Parents say students at Cooper City High School suffer from respiratory illnesses

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

COOPER CITY, Fla. - Local 10 took a tour of Cooper City High School, where crumbling walls, bubbling roofs, and leaky ceilings are the norm.

School building supervisor Jamie Curran, who also serves as a Cooper City commissioner, showed the school to Broward School Board members Laurie Levinson and Robin Bartleman and Local 10's Bob Norman, pointing out rampant leaks and water damage.

"The walls crumbling, falling apart right now is above the 4-foot mark. The water coming in from the top is not just coming in from the roof, it's coming in from the walls," said Curran.

The roof of the building is in dire need of replacement after years of makeshift seals and repairs with foam that is now bubbling and cracking. The band room is not only crumbling, but also stinks from water damage and possible mold.

Parents complained at a Broward School Board workshop meeting, saying band students were falling ill.

"Nearly every student has gotten sick, almost all with respiratory illnesses," said Donna Morton.

And every leak will only cost more taxpayer money to repair. Right now, district staff wants about $5.7 approved for a new roof and parking area.

The issue came up at a board workshop meeting this week that turned into a district fight over dwindling education money. Board member Katie Leach didn't support repairs at Cooper City High School because similarly damaged schools in her district – like Northeast High School – were being shortchanged.

"I am not going to sit quietly while my schools are skipped over," said Leach.

Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie urged them to stop the bickering and approve the money for the new roof.

"I'm not looking at this thing as an east versus west issue," he said during the meeting. "I can't. I'm superintendent for the whole, entire district."

"Why isn't the roof being fixed?" Norman asked Bartleman.

"Part of the issue is the money," she replied.

The school board has been hit hard by funding cuts in Tallahassee and a spending spree during the boom time that left it nearly $2 billion in debt.

"Now, 60 percent of the entire budget goes to debt service, so basically we're paying our bills and whatever is left we're having to prioritize based on safety to life issues," said Bartleman.

But those school board members also said the money is there to fix the roofs, the board just needs to make mending schoolhouses a priority.

"We're not asking for fluff, we're not asking for anything pretty," said Curran. "We're not asking for anything we don't need."

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.