Johnston County Schools has cancelled a meeting with parents and school leaders at Smithfield Selma high School. The meeting was planned for 5:00 PM today (Tuesday) to discuss concerns about mold in the Field House.
Tracey Peedin Jones, Public Information Officer said, “The 5:00 meeting on Tuesday with the SSS Stakeholders has been cancelled at this time and will be rescheduled as soon as possible after spring break. The number of participants was extremely limited due to sports activities and spring break. We want to ensure that as many of the stakeholders can attend.”
The condition of the Field House was made public by Mark Lee, a parent of a varsity baseball player at the school, during a March 1st Smithfield Town Council meeting. Photos of suspected mold growing on the walls of the building were shown along with other potential safety and health hazardous.
The photos prompted Smithfield Mayor Andy Moore to issue a letter to School Board Chairman Larry Strickland saying, “The photographic documentation provided by Mr. Lee saddened and embarrassed this entire governing body, as it should the entire Johnston County School Board. Our children deserve more. All students in Johnston County deserve the same types of facilities.”
Lee said other schools like Corinth Holders High, West Johnston High and Cleveland High have similar buildings they can be proud of. The SSS Field House, Lee said was shameful.
“Our goals should be the same,” Mayor Moore said in the letter, “ensuring that our children are able to attend schools where they feel safe and in an environment where their health is not compromised due to neglect, deteriorating facilities or lack of funding.”
At the March 8th school board meeting, Chief Operations Officer Patrick Jacobs seemed to shift some of the blame for the condition of the building to current Principal Stephen Baker. Baker had allegedly not reported any of the problems to school maintenance staff and two years ago told Jacobs the building was no longer in use by students.
On March 17th, Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow released a statement saying there is no intent to assign blame for the issues at SSS. “The students of this district are our greatest resource! It has always been our priority to keep them out of harm’s way as well as provide a safe learning environment for their overall success. Assignment of blame does not improve the process nor does it focus on our prime objective, the safety, welfare, and education of our students.”
Jones said a new date has not been determined.