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Fed offical touts jobs bill to fix rundown schools

Brunswick elementary school princiapal GloriTerry right talks with Peter Cummingham during tour her school Gary Monday Oct. 31 2011. Cunningham

Brunswick elementary school princiapal Gloria Terry, right, talks with Peter Cummingham during a tour of her school in Gary Monday Oct. 31, 2011. Cunningham, asst. secretary with the U.S. Department of Education was touting President Obama's Americas Jobs Act and how it would benefit Gary schools. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 2, 2011 8:14AM



GARY — West Side Leadership Academy Principal Judy Dunlap told a U.S. Department of Education official Monday that interactive white board technology is no match for a failed roof.

“We have new SMART boards and it’s raining on them,” Dunlap told Peter Cunningham who visited the city to rally support for President Obama’s stalled American Jobs Act legislation. Cunningham said it could bring about $13 million to the Gary Community School Corp. to upgrade and modernize its infrastructure.

Cunningham and an entourage of school officials toured Brunswick Elementary, stopped at shuttered Ivanhoe Elementary and visited with students at West Side and Lew Wallace STEM Academy.

During the stops, school officials and students reeled off a list of shortcomings at their school and told Cunningham what they’d like to see.

Superintendent Myrtle Campbell said her dream is one modern high school. She said the district’s high school enrollment is about 2,000 students yet it maintains five high schools.

“I have to be careful about speaking, but I would love to have one high school and then you could put all the facilities there and have the best.”

Campbell said she’d like to see a career program and a freshman academy program, like many other schools have.

Brunswick Principal Gloria Terry took the group to the school’s former kindergarten wing that was deluged by water. Ceiling tiles were down and visitors had to step around puddles.

Terry said the students had to be relocated to the Bethune Early Learning Center on the other side of the city.

Danielle LeGrand, 11, said she wished Brunswick had a bigger library because she likes to read.

Cunningham said opponents to the Jobs Act often cite the $9 trillion national debt as a reason to rein in spending. “We think in this economy, we need to keep spending as long as it makes sense.”

In Indiana, the American Jobs Act would provide $443,374,881 for modernization projects, supporting an estimated 5,800 jobs and $629,292,696 to prevent an estimated 9,100 teacher layoffs for one school year.

Reach Carole Carlson
at 648-3154.



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