The Parents’ Associations of the following schools made a joint announcement about the chronic problems of the buildings in the school complexes of Heraklion:
• 23rd KINDERGARTEN (KONDYLAKI),
• 12O DIMOTIKOU (POROS),
• 24th & 31st PRIMARY SCHOOLS (GERONYMAKEIO),
• 53rd & 54th PRIMARY SCHOOLS (ACADEMY),
• 7TH GYMNASIUM (MESSABELIES),
As stated in the relevant announcement, at the meeting held at the initiative of the Parents’ Union between a delegation of the Board of the Parents’ Union and members of the Boards of the Parents’ Associations of the above schools on Monday 12/9/2022, the “many, long-standing and burning issues that these schools face and are related to a large extent to the building problem faced by all the schools of Heraklion”. As noted, these are old problems which, however, “worsened and intensified especially in the majority of these schools due to the earthquake of September 27, as at least 50 school complexes in our municipality faced smaller or bigger problems. While static studies before or after the earthquake have been carried out in schools / school complexes that can be measured only on the fingers of one hand in a total of hundreds of school units in our municipality…”.
The Parents’ Association, as it underlines, will highlight these issues at a conference related to anti-seismic shielding and the school roof in the municipality, in October, “unfortunately, these problems seem to have one thing in common: the indifference and negligence of the municipal authorities authorities who governed the Municipality of Heraklion as well as the Regional/Prefectural administrations and governments throughout time. And not only that, but many times, especially on the part of the Municipal Authority, the taunting, the bilingualism and the attempt to activate the “social automatism” that is to pit one school against the other… The only solution that is given, and that with a lot of effort, reluctance and procrastination, is to fill all available school yards with containers or even to make school forms permanent as in the 60th kindergarten that was inaugurated and operates entirely in a container! But there is no reason for new schools… it has been at least 20 years before a new school is built in our municipality (except for some exceptions that cannot even be counted on the fingers of one hand)! While the plots available for expropriation or to be expropriated do not seem to exceed 6 acres and …they are moving one to Pateles and one to Kipoupoli!”.
Below, the Associations summarize the most important problems facing school buildings in Heraklion:
• In the 12th grade, with about 180 children, the problems are chronic and known to all municipal authorities as it is one of the oldest schools in our municipality: the ground floor was completed in 1954 and the upper floor was added in 1964! His condition, especially after the earthquake, worsened as he was rated yellow. The static study carried out in the summer emphatically showed the chronic problems: the entire stone building was supported by only 4 columns! A month ago, two of the four walls were reinforced and thus consecrated… For 10 years the director and the parents have been fighting to change the situation! With continuous attacks over time on the municipal authorities and with claims only temporary solutions are given…
• In the 53rd & 54th primary schools (as well as the Special Kindergarten and 1st Special Primary School in the Academy), after 15 years of demands by parents and teachers, as a whole of the parent movement, the works for the static reinforcement of the old and aging complex of the old Academy they coincided with the effects of the earthquake that also left its mark on the complex. The problems are many and by the time we got to the point where work could start in the summer, parents, teachers, the whole community, together with the Parents’ Association, we fought many battles that led to the start of work based on the agreements we had made with the primary school authority despite reluctance on its part during the summer. While work is in full swing, reports are leaking that there will be a problem with funding. Also similar leaks about the temporary relocation of another school under repair, in the already construction site environment of our school complex, creates reasonable concerns about the possibility of permanent installation of containers in the courtyard so that they will function as a wildcard school that will cover the numerous building needs of the schools municipality’s. The Parents’ Association and the associations have expressed their request for the creation of another reserve school, like the one operating in the port, and to which they have already moved with great delay (it was planned for the summer but despite initial assurances it took place a week later the start of the school year, which led to a delayed start of special schools, disrupting the planning of families), but the municipal authority declares weakness. The parents, through their associations, claim a safe school for their children, where the educational work will be carried out unhindered. The main claim is to secure the necessary funding to deliver a school without a container in the yard, functional and dignified within the prescribed time limits (September 2023). At the same time, they immediately demand the implementation of all the necessary improvement interventions in the wild school in the port so that the temporary relocation of the special schools is characterized by dignified and safe conditions, while a permanent request is the construction of a new modern building complex for the special schools based on their special needs .
• In the 31st & 24th elementary schools (Geronymakio Nursery), where more than 300 children study, serious damage was caused by the earthquake, also due to the great age of the building. After a long struggle, a temporary solution was found for housing the students, in construction site huts, donated by a private company. The suffocating overcrowding of children, the lack of soundproofing, as well as toilets, have made the conditions very difficult for children and teachers. In August, a contractor from the Municipality settled in our school and the static strengthening of the old building began. The timetable for restoration is uncertain, as much more severe cracking than expected was revealed after the plasters were removed. Even when the repairs are completed, many classrooms will continue to be housed in demountables, as was the case before the earthquake. In the fair demand of parents and teachers for a new school…nothing new can be seen on the horizon! Mockery and double entendre regarding the available/expropriated land for schools or the related plans and intentions of the municipal authority. In fact, there is no such prospect.
• In the 23rd kindergarten, which was attended by 50 children last year and which is relatively new and bioclimatic, there are problems in the building due to poor workmanship but also to its lack of maintenance, as the roof, which has tons of soil, is leaking from the first year of its operation. This resulted, according to the parents, in a ceiling light catching fire during class last year! Here too, the indifference of the municipality is characteristic, that all summer long, a municipal engineer failed to come by and see what was happening. They only came and did a smear for insulation and said that “when it rains we will see it again”!
• In the 7th High School, where this year it accommodates 450 children while the school was designed for 300 children (!!) the solution given by the municipal authority is … of course containers here too! Except that in the 3 that entered, after a thousand efforts and efforts of the parents, there is no room for 150 children! The only thing that is certain is that the multi-purpose room will be used again as a classroom and any other available space with classes of 30 students… The parents have made great efforts to get even these rooms in and finally only when they released a very caustic letter (“Caution! Don’t have any more children in Mesampelies!”. 9-8-2022 Letter from the parents’ association of the 7th High School of Heraklion) the threads moved. Of course, the parents’ request for a new school… no reason! And the electrification of the new halls is still pending…
Finally, after making it clear in their announcement that “without a claim and struggle, nothing can be done!”, they express their requests and claims from the deputy mayor of Technical Works, Greenery & Everyday Life:
DIRECT MEETING with the responsible deputy mayor next week with the presence of a delegation of our schools’ associations and the Parents’ Association.
To publish this joint text as well as the results of our effort in the next period
So that there is OFFICIAL information without evasions and understatements regarding:
The progress of the financing of the rehabilitation projects in the above schools after the end of the €1.5m contract. How and when will the above school buildings be delivered ready and with all the necessary work (frames, floors, plasterboards, heating-air conditioning, fire safety, etc.).
How, when and by whom static studies will be carried out in ALL the school buildings/complexes of our municipality. With priority to those that were damaged by the earthquake and by extension to every single school.
What are the designated/expropriated/to be expropriated plots of land for the construction of new school units, especially in areas with increased needs, eg Mesampelies. Stop the mockery of the 6 acres and their constant “moving” depending on the audience. What measures will the municipal authority take to create a second wildcard school – like the one at the port – that will be able to house students in an emergency or when work is being done on the school complexes (eg Academy, Geronymakeio, etc.).
What is the plan of the municipal authority in relation to the NEW schools that our municipality needs: how many, when and with what funding? What will happen to the kindergartens whose situation is tragic (unsuitable spaces, basements and ground floors of pilots, containers, etc.). With the nurseries that do not cover even 1/3 of the needs.