Barr on Career Center conditions: "We're in dire need"

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By Brian Garner

Prior to the tour the public took at the Chester County Career Center on Monday before the school board meeting, Career Center Director Thomas Barr gave The N&R a private walkthrough and described some of the structural problems the building is experiencing. During the tour, Barr confided in his fears about the building, his hope for the future and what he hopes opening up the center to the public for future tours like the one he would give later that evening, would tell people about the status of the Career Center.

“I’m hoping everyone who takes the tour sees that the students of Chester County need improved facilities. We have students in EMS courses, firefighter courses. We train carpenters, we train CNAs, we do it all here, and it keeps Chester County going. In order to provide an adequate facility, we either need to do something to the existing Career Center, because we’re in a dire need at this point, or we need to replace it.

“Many people have never visited the Career Center, but they’re giving an opinion. I’ve read a lot of negative things, and a lot of them are incorrect. Let the building speak for itself,” Barr said.

“If you come in and you see for yourself, you can ask: do you want your children in here being educated in these conditions?

“That’s my biggest issue: my students deserve to come in and learn in an environment that’s safe, that’s conducive to learning and one they feel comfortable in. At times, I get questions about the mold, which they try to repair by painting over and the walls cracking.

“It makes it really hard to recruit and retain quality teachers. I don’t have a high turnover like some other schools do, but when I’m competing for instructors against places like Fort Mill, Clover and Rock Hill that have top-notch facilities they pour a lot of money into, it makes it hard to maintain the ones that we have. What teacher wants to come here and teach in this environment?” he asked.

Barr pointed out some of the extensive damages that the years have wrought in the Career Center, places where the linoleum floor is separating from the walls, cracks running down the middle of the bricks that make up the walls and cracks that look like a small earthquake has opened up the floors.

The damage is marked at each place by an orange placard reading: ‘Work Order.”

Along with the cracks and separated places comes moisture from the elements. Moisture and water is not good for the electronic equipment in the graphics classes where computers operate or in the SWAT (Students Working to Advance Technology) classrooms, or even in some of the industrial manufacturing classrooms.