The system in the old building is dated, and its indicators don't properly work.
If the Fire Department is called, they might not be able to tell where a fire is in the building. First responders would then break into two person teams and search the facility, running through the three story building as the children try to leave it, possibly in smoky conditions. The first crew on scene will only have a few firemen. Because fires double in size every 90 seconds, just three minutes could result in the blaze, and the equally deadly smoke from it, being four times its original size. Alarm systems were installed throughout the US after the Our Lady of the Angels fire in 1958. But they can’t protect children if they aren’t working.
CPS knows the fire alarms at Gale are defective, and refuses to repair them.
The hazard of lead is in paint chips, but also the dust the deteriorating paint generates. Exposure to this dust in children causes a range of issues, including cognitive disorders and damages to the brain that affect memory.
The images show the condition of what CPS has tested and confirmed to be peeling lead-based paint in Gale's Main building. The problem is exacerbated by the roof leaking, which breaks down the paint and causes it to peel. This degree of damage in the hallways and rooms produces lead paint dust, which is then circulated throughout the building in the air.
The City of Chicago receives money expressly earmarked for lead paint abatement, but where this money goes is a mystery. A recent article in the Reader breaks down this situation.
Gale lags behind other schools in Rogers Park in test scores, and the role lead poisoning plays in that, if any is unclear. But a recent study of CPS students concluded that students exposed to lead “score notably lower on their yearly standardized tests.” CPS ignored the study when it came out, and continues to claim to partner with organizations to “address” lead poisoning, while refusing to name any of those groups.
CPS’ handling of Gale contradicts their own building performance standards, which state:
2. Lead-Based Paint:
The roofs in both buildings leak. This intentional neglect is a mold hazard, damages painted surfaces, including lead based paint in the old building.
The Gale Greenhouse roof is also damaged. Aside from not having funds for a full time teaching position to staff the greenhouse, the lack of reliable heating and leaking roof continue to cause problems.
The heating system in the new building fails on a regular basis. At times this past winter, students had to be evacuated to the old building after heating failures. In Gale’s green house, a local non-profit attempted an aquaponics program using tilapia fish, but lost their investment after a heating system failure froze their fish to death.
Gale has been told this year that it is to serve as a summer school, but the same system which controls the heat also operates the air conditioning system. CPS’ plan is to force students to sit through summer school without air-conditioning.
Internal cameras do not work. Alarm zones in both buildings are failing, which means that someone could enter the buildings in off hours and be there when children arrive in the morning. CPS has known about this for over a year and refuses to secure the buildings.
In the event of an emergency, a working intercom system is an absolute necessity. CPS refuses to repair the problems with Gale’s intercoms.