Jeanne Nawrocki, Kitchen Manager at Holbrock Elementary, has worked for Hamtramck Public Schools for 20 years. The school building is the oldest active elementary building in the state, and has proudly maintained many of its old features. However, when it comes to kitchen space, low ceilings and outdated power sources prevent the district from purchasing newer, more energy efficient equipment. Without proper financing, school districts cannot properly maintain historic buildings, nor can they build when new facilities are necessary.
At Holbrook Elementary, an old, uneven gym floor poses greater risk for injury. The school's gym doubles as a lunch room, which decreases the amount of time allocated for both lunch and gym periods.
Holbrook Elementary School principal, Colleen Murphy, can provide a laundry list of challenges related to school buildings. "We cover holes in the walls with posters. Our lockers are falling out of the wall." The passage of a sinking fund has given the district $600,000 more per year for repairs. However, with expensive roof repairs, smaller repairs often come out of the district's maintenance budget, a general fund expense. The higher a school's maintenance budget, the less funding a district has for instructional expenses.
Old lockers are often covered with brightly colored crafts made by the children. Such is the case at Holbrock Elementary, where student-decorated trees form a forest amongst the lockers.
Photography by Kate Levy