Resident Concerned over Health Suite in CES Plans

CLEARFIELD – One resident doesn’t believe the Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors has entirely addressed its facility issues so far as its renovation and expansion of the Clearfield Elementary School.

During the public comment session Monday night, Gail Ralston of Clearfield said she’d used HHSDR site plans and concluded the district hadn’t looked at the expanded CES overall and had focused just on specific areas. She said although it’s a relatively modern school, it was constructed as a K-5 campus and not a K-6 campus with an approximate student population of 1,160 with greater special education needs.

“You addressed space issues for some areas, but not the entire building,” she said.

HHSDR, according to her, added two sets of restrooms in the new wings due to the International Plumbing Code for educational use that requires one toilet or urinal and lavatory to be provided per 50 occupants. She said HHSDR increased the cafeteria and kitchen facilities, re-designed the guidance and office areas and secured the entry to the CES.

“But you haven’t addressed the health/welfare of our children,” said Ralston.

She said once the CES expansion is completed, it will have a larger student body with an increased volume of health issues. However, she said there currently aren’t any changes to the existing health suite. She said there will be an additional amount of medicine that will need to be dispersed daily for seizure disorders, life-threatening food allergies, asthma, diabetes and complex health needs, such as feeding tubes, as well as common childhood communicable diseases. She said these cannot be addressed with the current health suite.

Ralston said she compared the health suite areas of the renovated and expanded high school with that planned and unchanged at the CES. She said the high school’s health suite is being reconfigured and in her eyes, appears to be expanded. She said all children have health needs regardless of where they’re receiving their education. In addition, she noticed that there was a shower area in the CES health suite plans, which was absent in the renovated high school.

Ralston said that the PlanCon A instructions don’t include a shower as a feature of the nurse’s suite.  Further, in light of what occurred at Penn State, she didn’t think any professional outside of a medical facility would be interested in being involved with such a scenario.  Ralston said this shower area planned for the CES health suite would be better used for the care of sick children.

From another perspective, she told the board that Centre, Bradford and the Girard-Goshen Elementary Schools and the Clearfield Middle School all had health suites to service their students, as does the CES. She said the only difference is that the needs of all five, separate schools will eventually be using the same unchanged space. She said, “It will have adequate restroom and eating facilities, but its health needs remain unaddressed.

“The student population in Clearfield is down. But are the health issues going to be reduced in the expanded elementary building? I don’t think so. The people to check with are your nursing staff. This is the health care of our children. A child who is not healthy cannot progress in their education, and they can impact the health of others.”

Ralston urged the board to revisit the health suite issues at the CES, before it considers spending capital funds on extracurricular activities. She said the current CES health suite cannot adequately serve the needs of its students as mandated by the state. Ralston said she doubted the board would build an additional brick and mortar space, but it could consider a re-design of the existing footprint.

“Perhaps, you could give the space now labeled for a third administrator to the health center. It’s doable,” she said.  “You’re condensing all of our educational buildings into two. Both must provide all of our children and their nurse health care providers the space and facilities that they require to meet medical needs.”

Ralston also asked about the status of the community’s access to the track facilities at the Bison Sports Complex. She said that it was among the district’s selling points for the “expensive high school field improvements.”  She also asked about why more academic honors weren’t displayed in the lobby area of the high school, in addition to those for athletics and when the Clearfield schools will offer annual theater productions.

Superintendent Dr. Thomas B. Otto said there are alternatives being made to the health suite in the CES plans. He said there have been additions to these plans above what the board had already approved. He said so far as his understanding, the health suite met all the specific standards, but he would still check with the architect. When asked by board member Mary Anne Jackson, he said the health suite plans would be available for further review.

Board President Dave Glass initially said the track would be available to the community in the spring. However, Otto said the district had not resolved security issues, and it would remain locked. Board member Rick Schickling said they needed to figure out the security issues, as one of the district’s selling points was to grant access to the community. Otto said he would agree with the wishes of the board when it decides.

Glass and High School Principal Tim Janocko said students’ academic achievements are displayed at the school. Janocko said they’ve been limited in displaying them due to the renovation project. He said they also had a young teacher who started an acting group with student productions in the cafeteria and in the elementary buildings.

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