"We can't keep patching buildings that are 100 years old," says Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden. "We spend on average about $1,300 per kid just for our maintenance operations. That's the highest in the area."
Bedden is asking Mayor Dwight Jones and City Council for money from the city's reserve fund to pay for needed upgrades now. School board members agree.
"That reserve fund is for crisis and emergency and we're in that state right now," says board member Kim Gray. "When children are not safe in school buildings, it's time to open up the reserves and pay for some of the repairs that are needed to keep us safe."
A spokeswoman for the mayor says the city has consistently increased funding for schools and that the reserve fund is crucial to the city's bond rating, which ultimately saves taxpayer money.
Bedden says he'll also fight for teachers to get raises. Many are leaving to other school systems because they haven't had a pay increase in years.