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Woodson Teachers Want Answers, Refuse to Teach

Feb. 1, 2006 — Officials at John H. Woodson school sent students home soon after the students arrived Wednesday, because teachers say the administration is not communicating with them about the status of repairs at their school. Woodson teachers have been holding classes at Elena Christian Junior High on St. Croix since Sept. 2005 when the school was closed due to mold infestation.
In addition to structural problems at Woodson that forced the students, faculty and staff to share space at Elena Christian, some teachers say the situation is causing low student productivity.
"The students are unproductive," Woodson teacher Julia Dominique said at an afternoon meeting in the library. "By 3 p.m. they can't focus," Dominique said. "The students are unproductive, hungry and fatigued."
St. Croix district Acting Insular Superintendent of Schools Cecelia Knowles and St. Croix Administrator Gregory Francis arrived at the school around 3:30 p.m. to speak to the teachers. Tyrone Molyneaux, St. Croix Federation of Teachers president, had been at the school for several hours.
Wednesday was Knowles first day on the job. Former St. Croix superintendent Terrence Joseph retired Tuesday. (See "Terrence Joseph Retires".)
Knowles and Francis, with the input of the teachers, arranged a meeting for Thursday to get information on Woodson's repair status. Knowles and Francis said they would contact the department of Public Works, Planning and Natural Resources, Brent Blyden, school facilities planner, and representatives of Safety Solutions Consultants Inc., (SSCI) the company contracted to perform the school's moisture mapping survey to attend the meeting. They also asked that five teachers and PTA representatives attend the meeting. The meeting is to be held at government house at 6 p.m.
Although teachers pressed Knowles for a time line, she said she could not provide them with one. Knowles said SSCI is going to begin mapping the school and once the scope of work is determined then the project will go out to bid. Knowles told the teachers that's going to take a while.
"The reality is that we may have to stay in these conditions," Knowles said.
Francis said the teachers would be provided with weekly updates through their representatives.
"There is a solution," Knowles said. "Give me a chance to get to it."

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