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Rockwood Locker Rooms: Parity?

VIDEO: A school-to-school comparison revealed Eureka High School's locker rooms truly lacking, but photos provide Patch readers a behind-the-scene chance to see for themselves. Will Eureka's locker rooms ever get taken care of?

At the heart of an ongoing debate regarding renovations needed in the Rockwood School District are the Eureka High School locker rooms—for both genders. Eureka's locker rooms reportedly do not meet state safety codes nor the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Some parents believe the close-quarters shared by too many Eureka students in the same space contributed to the frequent number of staph infections experienced by the high school's athletes and students using workout rooms for health classes.

Rockwood residents likely have heard various points of view about the condition of the locker rooms, per the project list for Proposition S, which will be on the April 2 ballot. But to enable residents to see for themselves, Patch visited each of the four schools' locker rooms for a direct, real comparison.

Eureka's locker rooms still are the original lockers and in the same configurations from when they were built in 1971. The other three Rockwood high schools have newer or updated locker rooms:

  • Marquette High, original construction, 1993
  • Rockwood Summit High, bond issue renovation, 2008
  • Lafayette High, bond issue renovation, 2010

Replacement costs of the locker rooms at Eureka were estimated last year at $1.6 million, according to Dennis Griffith, Rockwood assistant superintendent for administrative services.

Chris Freund, Rockwood's director of facilities, told Patch that Eureka's locker rooms have "been the puzzle" that's been trying to get put together over several years. "Eureka's locker rooms have noticably less space, compared to the other schools, and were designed for a student population about a third of what it is now," he said.

"The rooms are very cramped. The lockers are problematic, and each have to be shared by two or three students."

Freund said Marquette's locker rooms were designed "from the get-go" for overall student numbers similar to what they have. However, years ago, when the district's schools were getting established, Freund said the exponential growth was in Eureka and Rockwood Summit High Schools, leaving both of those schools' locker rooms deficient in space and scope.

He said Summit's locker room needs were covered in the 2008 bond, and that Eureka's were on the list of needs for the 2012 Proposition R bond issue, which was a $43.2 million no-tax increase bond issue that failed. While a 54 percent majority of Rockwood voters supported Proposition R last April, it fell short of the state’s requirement of 57.14 percent to pass a bond issue—about 400 votes shy of what was needed.

During 2012, a Eureka parent addressed the district's Board of Education to accentuate the school's locker room needs: Eureka High Locker Rooms are High on Concern List

Attendees of a recent Board of Education meeting heard directly about the locker room's still-existing shortfalls from a senior student: 

During a past bond issue, Eureka instead received a multiuse theater room that serves as a classroom, meeting space, assembly spot, special events location and true drama facility.

What happens to the Eureka locker rooms if Prop S doesn't pass? Freund said Rockwood administrators, principals and board of directors would have to readdress the list of project needs, as outlined in Prop S, and try to determine how, if at all, some of the projects could be funded through other means. But there obviously are no guarantees about funding sources for larger projects, such as Eureka's locker rooms.

Julie Brown Patton March 20, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Chris Freund also says one of the "construction puzzle pieces" through the years for adding additional square footage to accommodate increased enrollment at Eureka High School did begin to address the locker room issues. "When the new gymnasium was constructed, there were new locker room facilities constructed as part of that project. Although they do primarily support athletic teams whose events occur in the gym, it did relieve some of the pressure on the outdated facilities."

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