Tyner Academy Seniors walk out of school in demand of better building conditions

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – Students at Tyner Academy came back to school on Thursday, only to find unexpected changes- changes such as the closure of a building due to structural concerns.

The 400 building also known as the freshman academy is now shut down until further notice. It was a decision Principal Harris had to make due to worsening structural conditions of mold, broken tiles, and water leaks.

“The Freshman building was just a sense of home and welcoming. When I was a freshman I felt welcomed and safe in the building and you were with each other. Now because it’s closed, the freshmen are scattered, confused, and don’t know where to go,” says Kaylea Moore, Senior at Tyner Academy.

A Hamilton County facilities review gave Tyner High School a building score of 57, and a grounds score of 16 out of 100 percent.

“In the document, the report suggests that Tyner academy needs to be torn down and rebuilt to house 2,000 students from 6th grade through 12th grade. Tyner Academy is supposed to be an educational facility. But instead, it looks like a crack house on broad street,” says Jaylan Sims, Senior at Tyner Academy.

Students say they are tired of the broken promises of a new building and think it’s time they are no longer overlooked.

“This situation could have been avoided altogether if we were prioritized and had a new building as promised. Our most basic needs should be met and to continue to ignore the problem is to ignore the safety and well-being of students here at Tyner Academy,” says Sims.

“We are tired of sitting in classes and being worried about if the ceiling is going to fall on our heads. This is not fair. They are building up other schools but constantly miss us. When is it our time,” says Timetrius Lansden, Senior at Tyner Academy.

Students say not only is their safety being compromised but so is their education.

 “It distracts us from getting an education. We need a stable classroom for each and every one of us so we can better understand the things that are being taught without having to go anywhere and everywhere to just get an education,” says Moore.

Hamilton County Schools provided a statement saying: “Hamilton County Schools has 7.5 million square feet of facility space with 51% of our buildings being rated in poor or average condition and the average age of our school buildings being 40 years. There are deferred maintenance needs at buildings like Tyner across the district with Tyner being one of the worst-rated buildings from the MGT facilities report. Tyner is a top priority for us to work through.”

Here’s a link to a facilities report from a board meeting last year: https://www.hcde.org/district/blueprint2030/mgt_preliminary_facilities_report. As a side note: Blueprint 2030 is an aspirational plan to address facility needs as funding is identified.
Here is copy of Principal Harris’ message below:

“Dear Parents,Welcome back!  I hope everyone had a safe and fun summer.   We are looking forward to having you all back on campus as we kick off what we know will be an exciting school year for all.

While we are excited to have students back in the building we do have some terrible challenging news that will come with growing pains. It has recently been brought to my attention from our maintenance department that there are some structural issues with our 400 building that houses our Freshman Academy.  Out of an abundance of caution, we will close this building until we receive clearance from maintenance.

All students and teachers who were previously assigned to this building will be relocated to other areas on our Tyner High campus until all renovations are completed.  This creates hardships for students and teachers, however, we will work to facilitate space the best we can until this problem is solved. We will be working with the HCDE Maintenance department to identify a timeline for when it will be safe for students and faculty to return to the 400 Freshman Academy Building and will communicate updates as they are available.

As you know, our buildings are old and need a lot of maintenance.  I have been a part of this community for over 30 years.  Our students, parents, and community deserve the best and it is my responsibility, as principal, to let you know that we have many challenges with our old buildings.  We have too many ongoing problems that need attention.  I know that it has been mentioned over the years that we are next in line.  It is my hope this will happen sooner than later.  I also hope to have your support as we move forward as One Tyner.

Thank you again for your continued support and patience while we work through this challenging process.  Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have questions.”

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