Eureka High School locker rooms are 40 years old, according to Rockwood School District records, and are in sad physical shape. To make matters worse, these locker rooms were built when the number of students was less than half of its current enrollment.
Cramped conditions, which also do not meet state safety codes nor Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requirements, are suspected to have contributed to the frequent number of staph infections experienced by the high school's athletes and students using workout rooms for health classes.
Replacement costs of the locker rooms at this high school are estimated at $1.6 million, according to Dennis Griffith, Rockwood assistant superintendent for administrative services. The locker rooms are one of 17 projects on the list of proposed bond-related items included in the Proposition R bond measure just voted Thursday to be placed on the April 3 ballot.
Tom Mueller, a Eureka High parent who lives in Wildwood, addressed the Rockwood School District board of education directors at the Jan. 5 meeting to ask for two improvements at the school: new locker rooms and replacing the school's swimming pool.
"I'm asking for equity in facilities across the district's high schools," he said. "This also is a function of health and safety."
Mueller said he believed changes in the boys' locker room haven't occurred since 1983 when the school only had 65 usable lockers. He pointed out there are 165 students alone in the football program who have to share the locker space.
Theft is also a consideration of tight spaces of this kind, he said.
"At Eureka, we have staph infections four to five times more frequently compared to every one case at other schools," he said.
Lafayette High and Rockwood Summit High got new locker rooms, despite those rooms being 10 years younger than the Eureka ones, cited Mueller.
Board of education director Keith Kinder, a former Eureka High principal, said the same number of lockers existed when the school had 900 students; now with almost 2,000, the locker rooms haven’t been improved.
"I keep hearing stories about problems at Eureka, and about what one school gets, and what another gets. Eureka's locker rooms are definitely a problem. They are a safety issue. This is not a fluff item; it’s a necessity item," he said.
Mueller said Eureka also should be considered for a replacement swimming pool, especially because the pools in the other Rockwood schools are eight lanes, compared to Eureka's six-lane setup. "We at Eureka really are down to four lanes, due to divers needing their space," he said.
That amounts to other Rockwood swimmers receiving 50 percent more practice, he said. "Our swimmers get kicked in the face," he said. "It's not safe or effective."
He said the other Rockwood schools have seating for four times more spectators in their pool area. "Our swimmers at Eureka also have breathing and asthma problems, due to the pool and space conditions. Some of our swimmers train year-round and they rotate among the various pools—they only have breathing problems at Eureka," said.
Mueller said Eureka was only one of a few high school pools left in Missouri at the size it is (25 yard versus 25 meters). "Our swimmers' strokes are a count off, because of this. Eureka swim athletes are at a distinct training and competition disadvange," he said.
Board of education president Janet Strate said the residual issues at Eureka High are due to a lack of funding through the years. "Why haven't the locker rooms been done before now? Because at one point, it was decision between the gym or an auditorium. School administrators decided to do the gym first. Then another theater was the priority," she said.
"We were in a huge growth pattern, but now that has slowed down. We've been focused on having enough classrooms. Locker rooms were a priority when Dr. (Jim) Wipke was there a year ago. When PE class students don’t have room to sit down, we're at the point where we have to do something. That does not meet ADA requirements."