Some city schools need a major makeover, according to a building inspections report released by the school cleaners’ union.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ issued a report on the 20 schools in the worst condition after tallying scores from the city’s annual school inspections. Out of about 1,500 schools citywide, five Queens schools made the list of top offenders.
In all five schools, SEIU 32BJ found crumbling interiors as well as toxins on tiles and in the air.
“It’s hazardous material that we’re talking about removing from our schools immediately,” said Gene Syzmanski, the union’s schools division director.
I.S. 238 in Hollis climbed the charts to second worst on the list. One school cleaner said the building needs wide-ranging fixes.
“The water valves need to be repaired,” he said. “Every classroom has a stain from leaks. I feel bad when I see the building like this.”
The cleaner, who withheld his name from publication, said he wants to fix everything in a state of disrepair.
But he added that the head custodian will not cooperate.
“When I tell him something is broken, he says leave it,” the cleaner explained. “He said to me, ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s not your problem.’”
The man said roughly 2,000 lights throughout the building are not working, many door handles are broken and bathrooms are “falling apart.”
I.S. 72 in Jamaica came in as the seventh worst school. Other Queens schools on the list included the Cynthia Jenkins School in Jamaica, P.S. 86, also in Jamaica, and Richmond Hill High School.
The report also said schools in the city’s poorest neighborhoods were in the worst condition.
“I’ve visited many schools,” Syzmanski said. “In the more affluent neighborhoods, the schools were immaculate.”
The Department of Education (DOE) said it spends more than $3 billion in building improvements under its capital plan and any serious maintenance-related complaints are “addressed immediately, as are simple, easy fixes.”
“We consistently provide a clean, safe and healthy learning and working environment in our 1,260 school buildings every day,” a DOE spokesperson said.
Local 32BJ said the priority was to remove everything containing hazardous material, such as asbestos on tiles.
“This stuff needs to be removed as soon as possible for the benefit of the children and everybody who works for the schools,” said Syzmanski.