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School Conditions

November 25, 1990

I so enjoyed the letter from Jeffrey Hayden (Nov. 11), deploring the condition of the Westwood elementary school where he voted, as contrasted with his posh bank. Yes, even in affluent Westwood the long-time lack of maintenance of our schools is reaching critical mass.

My daughter teaches in a fairly new building in Los Angeles Unified School District. Yet cleanup is primarily student/teacher maintenance, due to the cuts in custodian time. Sweeping floors is difficult for her as she suffers back problems.

Her recent sneezing fits so alarmed a class that, responsibly, some suggested she go to the nurse (who is only there part-time). Wisely, several youngsters suspected that accumulated chalk dust was a factor. Her allergist agreed, and instructed her to buy a dozen cloth diapers and organize a mass damp-cloth cleaning of the boards and eraser trays. She is not the only person among the 150 who use that room each day who has allergies.

A wholesome environment is vital for both teachers and students. Helpful housekeeping can be character building for students. But it does pose a question as to how long maintenance can be deferred. And it certainly poses the question Hayden mentions: How do we house our children versus how do we house our money?

MARTY DELMAN

Los Angeles

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