PALMETTO, Fla. — Imagine wet socks and having to walk through ankle-deep water just to get to class.
That’s the reality for students at Palmetto High School in Manatee County.
Alumni of the school say this is nothing new. Parents of students attending classes now complained of the same problem when they were in high school.
Now, the Manatee County School Board is finally promising to address the issue after students like Vincent Plank continued complaining.
“My entire business class smells like mold,” said Plank after Friday’s School Board Workshop addressing the issue. “They’re having to put in new carpet now.”
He’s not the only student complaining. Palmetto Junior Zachary Alaniz is a self-described “sneakerhead.”
“Wet socks, wet shoes—the water messed up my J’s one time,” said Plank.
But, the flooding is causing more than soggy shoes.
“The whole hallway sidewalk was flooded, and we had to jump over it not to get wet. One guy even got hurt!”
“It’s something that existed for decades and decades,” said Manatee County School Board Chair Gina Messenger.
“It affects directly our student’s health and safety,” said Messenger. “They are going to be trudging through water. We don’t know the cleanliness of the water, what germs they might be exposed to, so we want to make sure they’re in a safe environment.”
School board members say they want to get the flooding issue fixed once and for all. But, the fix might not be easy.
The school district might actually have to tear down some of the older buildings on campus and rebuild them at a higher level.
“It would be a long-term solution that will fix it-- not just put a band-aid on it,” said Messenger.
That project is expected to cost about $25 million could take time. For now, the board has approved funding for some immediate short-term solutions to include the enlargement of existing retention ponds around campus and improving drainage away from the buildings.
Messenger says finding a final solution is a priority for the board.
“We want to make sure this is fixed so this doesn’t continue for decades and decades and decades to come.”
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