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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

North Marion High parent expresses concerns over ‘unusable’ classrooms under construction

A North Marion High School parent expressed concerns over construction at the school that she says will create unusable resource rooms and a classroom for an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) program that no longer exists.

Theresa Ridinger, whose son is a senior at the high school, shared her concerns during Tuesday’s meeting of the Marion County School Board regarding the ongoing construction at the school.

“Spaces are being created in Phase 2 of the build that are not usable and are not helpful for North Marion High School,” said Ridinger, who claims the construction project is out of “sync with instructional norms in place.” She cited the cafeteria as one example, saying it is slated to be converted into an auditorium without seats.

Theresa Ridinger addresses the Marion County School Board during its regular meeting on Tuesdsay October 12
Theresa Ridinger addresses the Marion County School Board during its regular meeting on Tuesday, October 12

“The flooring is not to be replaced and it is tile. Tile in an auditorium is not a good acoustic plan,” said Ridinger. She says that a part of the cafeteria will be converted into a health office and an ESE classroom, despite the school no longer offering that program.

“A classroom is being created for a program that’s not even there,” said Ridinger.

She further expressed concern at the plan to divide the school’s current multipurpose room, which she says is the “largest space in the school,” into smaller resource rooms.

North Marion High School Photo courtesy of Google
North Marion High School is located at 151 W Hwy 329 in Citra (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

“It’s virtually the only space that is big enough for [large groups of students]. That is slated to be split into very small resource rooms. At one time, one-on-one instruction was an encouraged thing in education. However, my understanding is that resource rooms are very rarely used now, because it is not advisable to take a student out of the core curriculum class and separate them from the group,” explained Ridinger.

Ridinger closed her remarks by asking the school board to “cut through the red tape” and update the building plans to more adequately fit “the needs of the school and the students.”

“We’re creating resource rooms that aren’t usable, and we’re creating an ESE classroom for a program we don’t have anymore. It’s not what the school wants, it’s not what the students need, and it seems unfortunate that tax payer dollars are being used to build something that the school can’t even use,” said Ridinger.
In response to Ridinger’s concerns, Marion County School Board Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett and school board members said staff will collect information on the matter for discussion at an upcoming workshop and board meeting.
“We will get some information about the plan for this, where it came from, and the stakeholder input, and we will be sure to update the entire board,” said Gullett.